Today wraps up Teacher Appreciation Week and our schools have gone to great lengths to make this week about the teachers. We've had schools provide on site spa services (thanks to our Cosmetology students), a break room makeover, and lots of food. There were ice cream trucks, pancake breakfasts, snack carts, cookies, lunches, and a big sheet cake from Central Office.
All of these gestures don't begin to match the level of appreciation we have for our teachers, because they are so much more than teachers. When we think back to our time in school and the teachers who made an impact on our lives, we usually aren't thinking about what they taught. We remember how they treated us and how they made us feel. The teachers we recall as our favorites were the ones that took time to build relationships with us.
When I was in high school, I had a computer science teacher named Mr. Whalley. He also lived on a farm and hired a small group of students to work on the farm during the summer. I was part of that group one year. It was hard work, but we had the best time and became like a family. We
even had an end of summer celebration before heading back to school. Mr. Whalley talked to all of us about our future. I didn't really have plans for the future; I just wanted to get through high school. But Mr. Whalley recognized that I was skilled in math and he encouraged me to go to college and study math. This was the first time anyone truly believed I had the ability to go to college and be successful. I appreciated the fact that he had confidence in me and saw a brighter future for me than I saw for myself.
James Comer says that no significant learning can occur without a significant relationship. Mr. Whalley took time to get to know me and develop that positive relationship. He encouraged me. He respected me. He guided me. I think this is what we remember when we think back on the teachers who made a difference in our lives. And I believe the greatest show of appreciation we can give to them is to say "Thank you", and to say it often. I'm not sure if I ever said it to Mr. Whalley, even though I'm sure he knew how much I appreciated him.
To all of the teachers in IWCS, please accept my sincerest "Thank You" for all you do for our students, families, and community. I encourage everyone to take a minute to publicly thank a teacher, either a teacher who taught your child, or one of your former teachers. Let them know what they mean to you and tell them Thank You for being such a special person. Remember: you don't need to only do this during Teacher Appreciation Week. Anytime is the right time to tell a teacher how much they impacted your, or your child's, life.