Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Thank yous to some fabulous teachers
It's been a rough school year for our school district, as it has for many districts around the country. But this past year, our district voted to go to a 4 day school week, along with cutting several teaching positions, including our PE teachers, art teachers and music teachers. The days were very long, especially for my first graders that went from a 2.5 hour kindergarten day to a 7 hour day in first grade. And the teachers, oh my goodness, I don't think most of us know what they really went through to make this past year work for our children.
I was fortunate enough to be able to help for several hours in the classroom at least once a week, this past year. And what I saw made me a bit sad- our children are paying for bad political decisions and poor budget management (on local, state and federal levels). They are overworked and shuttled from subject to subject so quickly because of these silly testing standards and then their favorite subjects are taken away from them. It is distressing. But, I was also able to see beautiful lights shining through this educational dimness. I was able to see fantastic teachers and staff at my childrens' elementary school, persevere through this muck and embrace new teaching styles and find new scheduling opportunities (in an already unrelentingly scheduled day) to make the best of a bad situation and still give our children a good, solid education.
Some schools handled things differently and indeed, even at our school some teachers handled their own schedule differently, but in our little school wing, several of the first grade teachers got together and decided our kids still needed PE and music and art. So what they did was divide those individual teaching tasks up and one teacher would teach art to all 3 classes and another would teach PE to all three classes and another would teach music to all 3 classes. They juggled and shifted and moved things around (especially when we had a Monday holiday, which would make us have school on Friday for that week - CRAZY!) and they made it work for our kids.
We are very grateful to those special teachers. And we are very grateful that besides Hot Rod & Lil' Mermaid's first grade teacher, they were also able to have several more teachers enrich their lives this year: a fabulous student teacher, another first grade teacher who taught them art, another first grade teacher who taught them music and of course our wonderful computer teacher and librarian who we get to see several times a day as they are also our very cheerful and funny crossing guards.
So anyway, sorry about the tangent there, we wanted to show our appreciation to our wonderful teachers for their wonderful hearts and engaging minds. We got some cute wire baskets from the Dollar Store and filled them with a flowering plant, homemade biscotti and chocolate dipped pretzels and a zany card from the maniacs. Their super awesome main first grade teacher also got a gift certificate to one of her favorite little eateries. (We know she likes it because we happened to see her there eating one day with her own kids. Do your kids freak out when they see their teachers outside of school? My kids act like they've seen a celebrity!)
And by the way, if you have never made chocolate dipped pretzel before then you need to get melting! Because these are the easiest things in the world to make and they look like you spent a ton of time on them. I made these babies that morning right before we walked to school to drop off the gifts.
We did make one different thank you because this teacher taught the "lost" subject of art to my children. And as you all know, that is a subject near and dear to my own heart. She also typically taught our class on the same day that I volunteered, so I got to see her in action and help out in her classroom sometimes too. She has a young daughter and passionately loves to teach art, so the kids asked if we could give her one of our art/craft kit bags that we usually give as birthday presents to our artsy little friends. I thought it was a perfect idea.
Here's a close-up of the goodies inside (we stuffed that thing so full it would hardly shut!):
And here's a close-up of the freezer paper stencil I did on the outside. I did it the morning we gave it to her, running late as usual, but I was very, very happy with how it turned out.
We hope Mrs. K and her little girl enjoy hours upon hours of artsy craftsy time together this summer!
Now I realize we must look like complete brown-nosers to other people. But I think it is imperative that we generously, and as often as possible, thank these men and women who devote so much of themselves to our children. And I think it is very, very important to instill this thankfulness into our children, as well as a respect for any person who teaches our next generation. And yes, I know they get paid for it, but seriously - when was the last time you spent a seven hour day with 22 6-7 year old children and actually came away from it with all of your hair in tact and smiles on 22 little faces? Exactly.