My kindergarten teacher’s name was Miss Johnson. Tall and slender, with short brown hair and a gentle voice, she was the person who led us in songs at circle time and came to my rescue when I discovered a pincher bug in my crayon box.
Beyond these snippets, my brain holds no memories of the caring and smart woman who guided me through my first year of elementary school. But I do know that she must’ve had an infinite supply of patience. Apparently, I was pretty disruptive in my first months of kindergarten, leading to frequent timeouts on the dreaded “Black X” in the corner of our classroom.
As my kids finish first grade and 4K, I know their teachers are central figures in their world, and in mine as well. I also know that one day, it will be much harder to recall the details of these early years and the people who have been so important in shaping my children’s first formal schooling experiences. So I wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you, not only to my kids’ teachers, but to all the teachers who have had and will continue to have such an incredible impact on our children.
Thank you for being a solid, loving presence for my kids as they tiptoed, raced, and sometimes stumbled into their first years of school.
You taught my children to read and write, and fostered in them a love of stories. You showed them how fun and intuitive math can be. You inspired them to explore art, adorning our fridge and walls with their many creations: drawings of colorful flowers in sunny meadows, families of stick figures smiling and holding hands, turtles and submarines floating in pastel-smudged oceans.
You listened without judgment when I called you during the first week of preschool, worried about my child’s separation anxiety. Your calm and confident attitude helped everyone feel so much better.
You recognized situations that were difficult for my child, like adjusting to a brand new classroom and leaving her old friends. You made sure my daughter had the structure and support to face these challenges successfully.
You were there in the cold days of winter, offering unlimited hugs and quiet understanding to my kindergartener, who was suddenly homesick and crying because she missed Mama.
You showed kindness when my daughter had some tough days navigating new friendships and the emerging social nuances of the schoolyard.
You took the time to send me notes about something funny my child had said in class that day, and to e-mail pictures of silly faces at snack time and Show and Tell, knowing these would make me smile too.
You demonstrated saint-like patience not only in my children’s classrooms, but also on multiple field trips where you kept a busload of high-energy kids safe, focused and having fun, leaving me in awe of your stamina.
You dealt gracefully with my kids in several situations when their behavior was far from ideal, moments that floored me as a parent. Your patience and insight helped me remember that kids often have quirky ways of expressing themselves (such as throwing a tantrum underneath a train table or shoving a plastic bead up one’s nose). Your empathy helped me feel less alone.
You must have sensed how nervous I was at the prospect of separating from my babies (because no matter their age, they will always be my babies) for longer and longer stretches during the school day. You selflessly wrapped your love and warmth around my children, creating a caring space outside of their home where they could learn and thrive. In this way, you nurtured not only my children, but me as well.
Teachers, as the school year nears its end, I hope you know how amazing you all are! You deserve a far greater gift than a Starbucks card, a potted plant or a basket of Sharpies and Post-It notes. But I’ll give these to you anyway, along with my endless gratitude for all that you do.
I wish you a relaxing summer filled with chocolate, sunshine, mimosas, and lazy days when you don’t have to tell anyone to move their clip to “Make a New Plan,” or keep track of who is on Bus #3.
Just know that come September, I’ll be waiting anxiously at the school doors, ready for your capable hands to take the reins once again.
A Grateful Parent