Growth Spurts: Teacher Appreciation?
It’s May, which means the end of another school year and time to thank all the teachers for another job well done! These men and women play such a vital role in our children’s lives that no thank-you gift or card ever seems adequate. Especially the one my son almost gave to his teacher when he was in kindergarten . . .
It all began with my children wanting to create their own cards for their teachers for Teacher Appreciation Week. I loved this idea and strongly encouraged it. Callie, who was in second grade at the time, had just learned to make pop-up cards and was anxious to share this craft with her younger brother. Her design involved three separate pop-ups that appeared down the middle of the fold when the card was opened. To keep things simple, she and Caleb decided to use the first letter of each of the teachers’ last names for all three pop-ups. (Ex: Mrs. Russell’s card popped up “RRR.”) This was a great idea, except that Caleb’s assistant teacher’s last name was Kennedy. And she is African-American. And my family and I are not.
Though our son had the purest of intentions and the kindest of motivations, my husband and I simply could not let him give this card to Ms. Kennedy. So the card-making session quickly became a history lesson as we explained to our children the history of the Ku Klux Klan. Completely horrified by this, Caleb quickly snatched out the three K’s that adorned the inside of his card and replaced them with flowers and hearts. He absolutely loved Ms. Kennedy and wanted to make sure she knew that.
Fast forward a few weeks later. I was at the school for Field Day, and I spent a few minutes talking with Ms. Kennedy. I couldn’t resist it, so I told her the story of the card that almost was. She laughed hard and assured me he could’ve given it to her, and she would’ve thought nothing of it. To which I laughed but assured her that I could not have, even though we all knew it was completely innocent. I told her that I was actually thankful for the opportunity it gave our family to talk about race relations—both past and present—in our country.
Moms and dads, we just never know when these teachable moments will pop up—er, sometimes literally. We should always be on the lookout for them and take advantage of the opportunities to share valuable life lessons. We have the greatest influence on our children, and we are responsible for helping to shape and guide their values and beliefs.
Maybe our children will make teacher appreciation cards for us someday, too.
Carrie Bevell Partridge appreciates the teachers at Casey Elementary School for educating, affirming, challenging, and loving all three of her children for several years.