Teacher Appreciation: You’re Never Too Old to Thank a Teacher

Sure, they get summers “off” and if they work in the same school district as their children attend attend school they “share” vacation days. Yes, their workday “ends” with the final bell.

But I actually don’t know those teachers. I remember seeing my teachers working part-time jobs in the mall during summers. I spent more hours after school with many of my teachers than I did with my own family. And I finally figured out that those days off that I got as a student were work days for my teachers.

This week as the parent of a child in the high school, middle school and grade school, I’ve received volunteer notices for teacher appreciation events sponsored by amazing parents who are involved in the schools. My contribution will be cases of water for one of the luncheons.

But I am thankful for each one of my kids’ teachers. My hope and prayer is that each one of my kids will have teachers who make a subject become a passion or make a bad day of adolescent survival better. Not every school district or teacher gets a luncheon this week, but each of us can thank a teacher.

I am thankful for:

Miss Chioles, my kindergarten teacher at Waters Elementary School, Chicago. I remember her black hair and red nail polish, and I remember how she didn’t ignore the Asian girl who couldn’t speak English.

The librarian at Waterbury Elementary School. I’m so sorry I can’t remember your name right now. You introduced me to science fiction through Madeleine L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle in Time” and took a bunch of us to Wheaton College to hear her speak. I still have my signed copy, and L’Engle’s “Two Part Invention” makes me laugh out loud.

Mr. Weinberger, my elementary/junior high school band teacher…at least I think that is his name. He didn’t see us as a bunch of kids. He saw us as musicians. And when he picked out music for solo & ensemble contests I thought he was crazy. I think I can still play part of that piece from memory.

Mr. Studt, my speech team coach at Lake Park High School. He was brutally honest with me. He told me I didn’t have a future as an actress, but I could kick butt as a orator. He taught me about pacing, using the stage, eye contact, inflections, gesturing, and research. He taught me about the power of my voice.

Mrs. Umlauf, my first journalism advisor at Lake Park High School. She handed back to me my first red-marker massacred news story assignment and eventually asked me back to lead the sports section. I was hooked. She taught me about the power of words.

Mr. Ciske, my second journalism advisor at LHS. He made producing an unappreciated high school newspaper fun, and he inspired me to peak after high school. He also taught me the value of respect by respecting me not as a student but as a journalist.

Ms. Steinbring, my photography class teacher at LHS. She made me see that a world in black and white was incredibly beautiful and worth the patience. She was also my class council advisor; she made leading fun.

Who were the teachers you appreciate(d) the most? What did they teach you?