If you had the chance to jump on a bandwagon full of people working to mitigate all of the negativity in the world (and especially the news), would you jump on it?
I joined UNFUCD, a site designed to spread good instead of negativity and felt better immediately. Although the site has now been discontinued, I loved being part of a group that wants to “raise better people, be better people, and expect more of those around us.” I plan to keep the idea going on my own. Editor’s note 10/21/17: I revised the above paragraph after the site ceased being active. pk
Assignment Number One: Teacher Appreciation
The first assignment (they’re optional!) is to write a note of thanks to a teacher. We were encouraged to hand-write these. Mine is a bit long, so it is not hand-written, but because I value snail mail so much, I am sending the hard copy to the teacher I’m thanking along with some Big Green Pen swag!
My Note to Carol Kelley
(Note: Carol Kelley was my teacher in eleventh and twelfth grade, for several classes including business, accounting, and (gasp!) shorthand.)
July 30, 2016
Dear Mrs. Kelley,
I am participating in a project whose goal is creating happiness one day at a time (in order to counteract all the negativity in the world).
Today, I have been given a specific mission by that project: write a note of thanks to a teacher.
You and I had a conversation the weekend of Mary Nell’s funeral when I told you I had something I’ve always wanted to thank you for that had occurred when you taught me.
The particular day I am writing about was only one day among many days that I was your student. This could turn into a long letter if I elaborated on the many ways I learned from you, and why I hold you in such high regard.
But the day I am writing about now was a day which had to be one of the most difficult days we faced together in 1982, my senior year. It was the day we had all learned that our classmate, Debbie Hales, had passed away unexpectedly, and we were all shell-shocked. I can only imagine what it was like for you as a teacher to personally process the loss of a student while trying to provide support to a classroom full of her classmates who were also stunned into disbelief.
As we all sat there in class, obviously unable to focus on the topic (I think it was accounting but don’t recall for sure), you said, “Let’s go to the science fair.” (The science fair was underway that day, and all of the projects were on display.)
Of course we had as little interest in the science fair that day as we did in balance sheets, BUT your choice did several things:
- It got us moving. No amount of “exercise endorphins” were really going to cut through our shock and grief, but the act of getting our blood and oxygen flowing was better than sitting, mute and powerless to change the tragedy that had just occurred.
- Besides getting our bodies moving, it got our minds distracted and put us in a new setting, one where we did not have to look at Debbie’s empty desk.
- It acknowledged that there are times in our lives where we have to trust our instincts in order to lead effectively and make a choice that is guided by no rule book or set of procedures.
We were in the Business/Accounting track because we wanted to have useful skills for eventual employment.
What we got that day was an example of a useful skill for life management and being sensitive to those around us.
More than 30 years later, I still think of that day OFTEN.
The way you handled our classmate’s death certainly did not bring her back or make us feel “better,” but it acknowledged the gravity of the day while exemplifying how to lead in a way that has influenced me at times when I have had to help a child, friend, or co-worker handle tragic news.
School is about so much more than facts in our heads, and I appreciate how you taught us “heart lessons” in addition to the ones directed toward our heads.
Paula Rucker Kiger
Do YOU Need or Want to Thank a Teacher?
Although I wrote to a “traditional” teacher, one of the things I loved about this assignment was how it encouraged us to think about people who have been our teachers in other ways, about forms of teaching such as:
- A mentor at work
- A family member with life lessons
- A colleague
- A peer
If some one has made a difference for you by taking on the role of “teacher,” why not drop them a note?
Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many. My pronouns are she/her/hers.