we love teachers + giveaways!
Not too long ago our son, Porter, tried out for the middle school musical with a very specific part in mind — one that would give him lots of lines and opportunity for the spotlight. When he didn’t get what he wanted, he decided he would bow out and just not be in the musical at all. Waaaaay easier for me as a mother who drives him EVERYwhere, right?? Except I knew that wasn’t the right decision. He and I talked through everything and I reminded him, as I have over and over again, that his decisions are his. He takes full ownership of the choices he makes. So as he emailed Mrs. Easton about his decision, I cringed a little but also thought to myself . . . What a growing experience this will be. There’s something to learn from this. I don’t see her allowing Porter to back down that easily.
Then it happened. Mrs. Easton responded to Porter’s email. She was loving and understanding, but she was as firm as a new memory foam mattress. She reminded him that in a musical, we need leads but we also need ensemble parts. Singers and dancers. We need backstage crew. We need lighting techs. Everyone has a part and each part is important. And you guys. As I read her email, I was so full of love for this woman (who has become a dear friend and a part of our family’s “tribe”) who clearly cared enough about my son to TEACH him what he needed to be taught in that pivotal moment.
Porter accepted that role and performed in 3 middle school musicals. Each has been an awesome experience.
We’ve been thinking a lot about teachers, especially since this week is Teacher Appreciation Week! At least it is in the U.S. Is this celebrated similarly in other countries? Does anyone know? Anyway — we want to honor teachers! I’ve shared one example of a teacher I adore, and each person on our team is also sharing how a teacher has inspired them personally or an experience they’ve had as a teacher or in Race’s case, it was actually a fellow student who became one of the greatest teachers in his life through his example and friendship.
We’d love to hear YOUR experiences, too! Please share your own teacher-related story in the comments. And if you do, you’ll be automatically entered for a chance to win a prize for you AND for a favorite teacher!
I started high school with braces, glasses, and at about 6 inches shorter than the average 9th grader. That’s normal. What made it tough was that we moved from Germany to Arizona about a month before school started, and I knew exactly no one. Just a couple weeks into what could have been a nightmare high school career, one of the “cool” kids named Matt turned to me in class and just started including me in his group of friends. Completely out of the blue. It wasn’t a one-day charity project either. Matt and his friends became my best friends for 4 solid years of high school. I’m even convinced Matt got all our friends to vote me “class favorite” our sophomore and senior years, while he won freshman and junior years. An attitude of kindness and inclusivity from a genuinely good-hearted kid changed my entire teenage experience, and I can’t begin to explain how much I appreciate that.
My parents dropped a bombshell on me and my brothers when I was in the 4th grade. DIVORCE. I was devastated, and the next day at school, my teacher Mrs. Graham noticed. She took me aside and asked me what was wrong and I told her through tears. She let me skip all normal activities that day and she let me stick by her side. She let me take my shoes off so I was comfortable. She told me I could bring my favorite stuffed animal to school if I wanted. And when I told her I wanted to write an angry letter to my dad, she told me I could use her typewriter. I don’t know why I remember those details. I just know she helped me through a very difficult time in my young life.
I graduated from BYU with a degree in Elementary Education and am grateful for the 2 years I had the opportunity to teach 4th grade (before we left for my husband to attend graduate school). One student I will always remember was a boy named Russell in my first classroom – I had 21 students and he was certainly one of the most difficult of the bunch. Talking with other teachers, he had struggled in previous years, as well, and seemed to lack support from home. He battled with ADD but would not take his medication regularly; in fact, I could tell the minute he walked into my classroom each day whether or not he had taken it. While he often struggled with attention and behavior, I could tell he was a good kid and I worked hard as his teacher to encourage and praise him for those things he did well.
It’s amazing to see how children respond to positive reinforcements (as I’ve noted with my own children and their teachers over the years)! Russell’s contributions in the class increased and he seemed to “fit in” with our entire class over time. The biggest triumph for me was when his parents actually attended parent/teacher conferences with me that year – apparently they had never bothered to come in previous years so it felt like a major accomplishment to get them to that meeting and it gave me an opportunity to share with them all of the GOOD that their son was working on in the classroom along with discussing a plan for how we could all work together as a team to help Russell become even more successful. Having that experience as a teacher – before I had my own children – taught me great lessons about validation, encouragement, and the essential role of the teacher / student / parent partnership in a successful education experience.
When I was in the 3rd grade, I remember walking to school . . . up hill both ways, in the snow. Alright, but really, I’d walk every day, winter or not. My teacher Mrs. Hansen would be always greet me with the warmest hugs. Every now and again she’d also bring fresh bread and she would let me come in to her classroom before school started and we would eat and talk together for a few minutes. She totally connected with me and made me feel important.
Thinking back on my childhood, I can’t remember a lot, but I do remember one teacher in particular — my 5th grade teacher, Joi Hess. She exemplified her name and truly spread joy wherever she went. She was an older lady and I remember some of the kids in the class were disappointed that they got the old lady for a teacher, but I knew better. I knew she was one of a kind! She was tall and she wore Birkenstocks. Mrs. Hess was an artist and wanted to give us the opportunity to do as many art projects as possible. It was almost all that we did. Any time she could weave art into a math or history or English lesson, she did. She loved every single piece of art or pottery or sewing that each of her students did, that was very clear. I was pretty smart but also sometimes felt a lot of pressure to be the very best in the class. In this class, I never felt that. We were all equals with our own unique talents. It was my best year of school ever!
When I was seven, almost 8 years old, my family — my dad, mom, little sister, and I were in a car accident. We lost both my mom and my sister that day. When I was healed enough to go back to school, I discovered how much I’d changed, not just emotionally but physically. My pretty long hair had burned in the fire in the wreck so it had been cut off short. I had burns down my shoulder and arm. I’d just gotten out of the wheelchair and had to use crutches till my broken pelvis was completely healed. I was insecure and scared. I became an easy target for kids to pick on. There was one older girl who had a band of friends that would follow me around and tease me. They’d call me “fake crutch.” She would corner me in the bathroom during recess. She would yell at me and push me around till one day she slapped me right across the face in front of her friends. I just stood there paralyzed with fear and shame. It was such a scary & very lonely time.
I felt like I couldn’t go to my teacher because I didn’t want to worry my dad. He’d lost so much. I had already missed too much school so I would say that my burns hurt and ask to skip recess. I had a 3rd grade teacher named Ms. Wise, she herself was a burn victim and had scars all over her arms and chest. She said we were the same, that we were strong and she understood how badly the burns hurt. She would allow me to spend lunch & recess in the nurse’s office or in the classroom with her. I would read books and help her in the classroom. She made 3rd grade bearable and I felt protected. Even though she didn’t know exactly what was happening, she lived up to her “Wise” name and gave me the extra attention I needed.
In a teaching hospital there is a saying of “See one, do one, teach one.” All employees, whether you were employed by the College of Nursing or the College of Medicine, had the job of teaching the next generation of health care professionals. As a nurse extern (a nursing student who is employed by the hospital but who is still training) and as a new nurse grad, I worked with 2 nurses who had a profound effect on my nursing career and my outlook on life. We worked on a pediatric oncology unit. There was a demand for excellent clinical skills, sharp critical thinking skills, and organization and time management because it was a very busy unit.
I was lucky to work, train, and learn from almost every nurse on that unit at some point (and I can’t say enough wonderful things about all of them), but Denise and Elicia were the ones I trained with most consistently. They took me from a shaking in my boots nursing student to a confident caregiver. Not only did they help to refine my skills and grow my knowledge, but they also taught me about compassion and empathy. They taught me how to find those moments in a busy schedule to really care for people emotionally. I loved watching how they would interact with those sweet kids and families, whether it was playing with them, listening to them tell a story, or lending a shoulder to cry on and giving a comforting hug. Those years made a profound impact on my life and I hope that I never forget the love and service given to others that I witnessed on a daily basis.
I’m not gonna lie. I got a little weepy reading everyone’s stories. God bless inspired teachers who do — and GIVE — so much!
I certainly hope you’re feeling inspired. If so, share a story in the comments. We will randomly be selecting one winner from the comments to receive a bundle of products from us as well as a magnetic board from our friends at Jut Made. This board is one of my very favorite things!
But wait. There’s more!
We will be giving the winner a $50 gift certificate to our shop and a Jut Made Board. In addition, we will send you a bundle of products to pass along to a favorite teacher! Yep — you will receive a Project Life® Mini Album, School Themed Cards, a pack of Journaling Pens, a pack of Lined Cream Cards, 2 rolls of Stone Wrap, and a Jut Made Board for any teacher that you choose!
Excited? So are we! You have until 5:00 pm PT on Tuesday, May 2 to add your story to the comments . . . and please tell us your city + state / country! Good luck!
*UPDATE* Our randomly selected winner is Rebecca Pinon in New Mexico! Rebecca, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to claim your prizes.