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The Gift of a Teacher

Teacher Appreciation looks different this year as educators navigate new roles, new environments, and new rules of engagement. It’s hard...for everyone. Teacher lives have been upended just as all of ours have been, their jobs are reinvented daily and they struggle to manage the tech elements that invaded education like a lightening bolt, while their customers and public opinion continue to expect prompt responses, perfect poise, individualized, compassionate service AND educational rigor and excellence. Teachers are under fire and expected to be heroes and humans at the same time, it’s entirely unreasonable and completely predictable because despite the illogically low salaries assigned to their profession, anyone who has ever entered a classroom eventually learns to value the heroic humans who work to expand our minds while absorbing our emotions. Anytime is a perfect time to share the gift of gratitude, and most teachers agree the most valuable mementos come in the form of sincere words of appreciation. Bellevue Lifestyle asked a retired elementary school librarian, who chooses to remain anonymous, to complete a little homework assignment:

Tell us your most memorable teacher gifts:

During my 33 years as an elementary school librarian, many generous gifts and thoughts were shared and always appreciated.  Every student who walked into my library was a gift, and sometimes a welcomed challenge.  I was very blessed with each of my work situations and learned so much.  Two particular memories from years ago remain especially meaningful.  I call them: “Perfume and Chocolate.”

I once received a half-used bottle of inexpensive perfume from a little boy. He had obviously gift wrapped it himself.  It had belonged to his mom who was no longer with the family.  I dabbed some on.  The boy smiled and said it made him happy that I smelled like his mom. These words have touched my heart for years.

Another memory is about a non-English speaking kindergarten student. The father stopped by to introduce himself and ask that I help his son whenever possible.  I told the man about how my father also started school as a non-English speaking student.  My grandparents immigrated to the Black Diamond area in the early 1900’s, and while Grandpa worked in the coal mines, my Grandmother worked hard with four children.  They functioned in Italian, speaking to other Italian neighbors.

When the time came for my Dad to begin school, he never forgot his first day in class.  He came home and announced to his mom with surprise, “Ma – they don’t speak our language!” That single day influenced my successful father for his entire life. When I became a teacher, Dad asked me to always be especially helpful to students who were learning English. I shared this story with that parent and promised that YES, I would always help his son.

Months later, during the holidays, the father came to my Library with a large box of Godiva Chocolates. Very fancy indeed. I immediately told him he should not have done this. The gift was too generous. He replied: “No, these are not for you, but for your father.” My father’s reaction when I gave him those chocolates was incredibly touching for both of us.

Sometimes, the best gifts of all are carried in our hearts.

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