Stop and thank a teacher

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 15, 2010

Do you have a favorite teacher?

My daughter does. Every year she has absolutely the best teacher ever. Every year.

Me? I don’t know if I could even name a favorite teacher. The ones I remember all stand out for various reasons.

“Hands on keyboard, ready, type!” That was Mrs. Rutland, my typing teacher.

“Turn around and pay attention!” That was Mrs. Hardy, my senior English teacher.

And way back I’m sure we all had the favorite coach in study hall who would bang his wooden paddle on the desk as hard as he could. Mine was coach Echols.

I loved high school. Every minute of it. The teachers were great. In fact, I think they had as much fun as we kids did.

Now I don’t remember so much about my grade school teachers. I have really vague memories of those years. I do remember playing hopscotch under a big tree in back of the school (the tree is long gone, but the school remains) and reading Dick and Jane readers on the floor in front of open windows. I remember lining up for a shot – not sure which one, but I remember lining up in front of this gun-like device and someone going down the line firing away to prevent some illness or another.

Why do I conjure up these memories? Because another school year has almost ended, and I let a special day pass by without a mention. May 4 was National Teacher Day. If you knew that, then I hope you took the time to say thank you. If not, then we still have time since the final bell for the 2009-10 school year has yet to ring. We may not have said thank you to those teachers who molded our lives, but we can take the time to thank the teachers molding the lives of our children.

Today’s teachers face a lot of challenges not thought about in days gone by. They face a lot more rules, too, many of them, as far as I’m concerned, pretty stupid. (Can’t lead a prayer, can’t discipline a child, and the list goes on.)

So if you’re pleased with your child’s teacher, take the time to tell them before the school year ends. Here are three suggestions:

• Greetings: A thank-you note, card or even a letter showing your appreciation is a nice gesture that both parents and children can offer to their teachers. Be sure to explain specifically in the letter or card how that teacher has influenced your child’s learning growth. For younger students, a colorful picture always brings a smile to the faces of teachers.

• Volunteer: Teachers are always strapped for time. Therefore, encourage your child to stay a few minutes later after class, if possible, or stay after school to help them erase their chalk boards, straighten up educational materials, etc. Or you go to the school and do it yourself. This is a nice way to let that teacher know that you appreciate their hard work.

• Brag! If there is a teacher who has had a special influence on your child’s academic efforts, be sure to let their supervisors or principal know. This can be done through an email, letter or even a simple phone call. The school officials and administrators, as well as that particular teacher, will appreciate the compliments for a job well done.

If you have a memory to share about a special teacher, or if you’d like to send out a public thank you to your child’s current teacher, send it to me. I’ll do my best to mention all I get in future columns.

Sandy Cunningham is publisher of L’Observateur. She can be reached at