There are special people in my kids' lives who have gone way beyond their job descriptions in the impact they have made. They have believed in my kids, encourgaged them and inspired them. These relationships helped shape who they are and what they believe. What could be a more important job than building up young people and inspiring them to think?
When my son came home from the first day of school in the 6th grade he shockingly proclaimed that social studies was his favorite class (thanks to Mr. "H"), and indeed it was an inspiring year.
Our neighborhood had a bus driver named "Jim," who always wore Hawaiian shirts and a matching sunny attitude as he toted our kids to and from school for years starting in kindergarten (when we drove to the school to beat the bus and watch our kids get off the bus!). The "bus stop" neighbors bought Jim a special Hawaiian shirt because he was such a positive part of our kids' day. Although Jim is retired, he signs up to drive the bus for athletic playoff games, including girls basketball games because he he has known several of the girls on the team since kindergarten. At one playoff game, Jim brought the Christmas cards and photos of our much younger kids we'd give him over the years, treasures he had saved for over a decade.
At this year's high school Choir awards banquet, MI Choir director Tom Cox set up a shrine of similar momentos, including a notepad with our daughter's picture on it that our family had given him when she was in the 7th grade. These thank yous clearly matter.
The list goes on and on, and grows each year as our kids encounter tremendous music teachers, coaches and more. In high school, the opportunities for amazing teachers to leave their marks on our kids grows exponentially. My graduating senior was blessed with a number of inspiring, supportive teachers who had an enormous positive impact on her high school experience.
During the multiple events scheduled for graduating seniors, it became clear that many teachers and administrators feel like us parents-- this is a milestone for them too. They've had a hand in shaping these kids, and have a stake in the young adults these kids have become.
For those with graduates from 5th grade, 8th grade and high school seniors, it may feel like bigger thank yous are in order. You might feel stressed about figuring out what type and how many thank yous to give teachers and other important mentors this time of year. Is a hand written thank you card enough? Home-baked treats? A fully loaded Tully's card perhaps? Or does it need to be bigger and more personalized like a hand painted or autographed coffee mug?
Yesterday at the high school I saw English teacher Chris Twombley walking through the hall, looking down at a paper in his hands. A huge smile broke out on his face and he was clearly touched. He was reading a handwritten thank you note from someone. It seems a simple heartfelt thank you note goes a long way.