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Teacher Appreciation Week

By Nathan Coker
In Bayou Kidz
May 2nd, 2023

article by Cindy G. Foust

Greetings loyal readers as we stare into the eyes of the month of May, the proverbial “end of school” month of the year. I don’t know of anyone in the world that can look back on their educational career, whether they stopped after high school, or took it as far as medical school, who doesn’t have at least one teacher that literally help shape the course of their future. Perhaps it was a coach or a beloved chemistry teacher (to be clear, I didn’t say chemistry was beloved, I said the teacher was), that you might give credit for the successes you have enjoyed. With that being said, I consider myself very lucky to have had many influential teachers along my educational path; a path I continue to stay on even today.

One of the most notable is Mrs. Sylvia Brass, who recently retired from governing the halls of Minnie Ruffin Elementary. But before she became Mrs. Brass the “principal,” she was Mrs. Brass the “teacher,” and in my 7th and 8th grade English class, Mrs. Brass is the very reason I am a writer today. Her creative approach to English and her interest and encouragement of my early writing skills, gave me the basis for the writing path I have taken. I am sure she could hardly wait to get home to read and grade my essay on Benjamin Franklin; and felt so helpless at her inability to nominate me for the Nobel Peace Prize for the piece of literary genius that I cranked out in the 7th grade. Even though I wasn’t a middle school threat in the world of the prestigious Nobel for literacy, Mrs. Brass certainly made me feel as if I was. My writing skills were certainly honed under her tutorship, but I will never forget how her encouragement and praise made me strive to do better each time I turned in my paper.

As a mother who has fostered two children through the school system, I appreciate and understand how valuable encouragement and praise are when it comes from a teacher that your child loves and respects. I know we would all agree that our children’s teachers are with them as much as their parents. I may be biased, but my children have had, and continue to have some of the very best teachers that can be found. Sadly, and without hesitation, I will say that our present education system has created many challenges for teachers today.

I have watched with interest, especially over the course of the last school year as my daughter-in-law has entered the profession, and found that my teacher friends and acquaintances have, however, risen to the challenges, and continue to expect, and get, excellence in their classrooms. I think so many times that a teacher’s work and a teacher’s dedication to their students is a thankless job. However, the very idea that someone is sitting at a computer writing an article, which will ultimately be read by thousands of people, can only be attributed to the teachers who taught her to read and write. And along with the knowledge they impart to us (except in calculus, there is not a calculus teacher in the world that can help me understand slopes), the foundation they lay in the areas of behavior, discipline and life skills are just as important to the students they are charged to influence.

Many of these lessons our children learn from the educators we entrust them to, can’t be taught from a textbook. These lessons must come from a place in that teacher’s life that makes them willing to share and motivate their students to be better people. So, it’s no coincidence that this article will coincide with Teacher Appreciation Month, or week, and my hope that our readers will take a few minutes to think about the influence of a teacher. 

I have talked to many of my teacher friends about how they enjoy this time of year and the kinds of things they appreciate getting. I found it interesting that even though they certainly enjoy gift cards for movies and local restaurants, what they cherish the most are words of appreciation from their parents and students.  Yes, you heard it… just when you thought you had turned in your last writing assignment in college, I am challenging you to one more. Why not sit down at your computer or, heaven forbid, blow the dust off the stationery at the bottom of your desk drawer, and handwrite (cursive or print from BC (before computers) era) and let your child’s teacher know how much you appreciate and respect the job they do with your child or children. I don’t know of any teacher who wouldn’t appreciate and treasure a sincere note that simply gives thanks and lets them know that their work is valuable (of course, a Visa gift card will also give a shout out of love, as well).

What’s more, make this a family affair and have your child (aka the student) practice their writing skills and also send a note of thanks to their teacher(s).  I wonder how many students actually thank their teachers each year, and let them know how much they have learned in their classroom or as important, how they made them feel? And while we are in the middle of this handwriting extravaganza, why not send a note to a teacher that you had yourself… that might even be retired, and let them know how they influenced your life and/or career.

As I write this column, I pulled out some old yearbooks and found myself right smack “dab” in the middle of memory lane. A rush of memories, particularly my elementary and middle school years (do I need to remind you readers that I am a former Miss Woodlawn Junior High?), comes flooding back with some pretty special teachers that I was fortunate to have. I love the saying that “Students may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” I urge you to reciprocate the love and attention that a teacher once showered on you, as our loyal readers, or who continues to shower on your children, and send them a note of encouragement and thanks.

Unlike my 7th grade Benjamin Franklin piece, it might not be Nobel Prize worthy, but it will go a long way with that teacher who has devoted their life to the education and well-being of our children. That note, and a gift card to Outback, will likely bring a smile, and a tear, to the heart of our dearly-loved educators.

Cindy G. Foust is a wife, mom, author and blogger. You can find her blog at the alphabetmom.com for weekly columns about home life, parenting, small business stories and insight with a smidgen of literacy. Give her a like or follow on Facebook and Instagram.