Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Appreciating Mrs. Blanchard (and all the other teachers!)

In case you haven't heard, it's Teacher Appreciation Week.  Yeah, there's a holiday for that now.  Actually, there's a whole week.  And there should be!

I have to admit . . . I am such a nerd.  I was so giddy for excitement for this week to arrive.  I began working on a project for Mason's teacher about a month ago.  I wrote a letter to all of his classmates and their parents explaining the project.  I went to his class one day and gave everyone an envelop with the letter in it, along with a blank card for each child to write a note of appreciation to Mrs. Blanchard.  I didn't tell them what was in the envelop.  I told them it was a surprise and that they couldn't even open it until they got home.  I had no idea what to expect, no idea if or even how I would get everyone to participate.  But they did!  I even had parents emailing me and texting me.  The kids were all so excited, and Mason came home the next few days with the completed cards.  He couldn't wait to get home and give me the cards so we could mark his classmates' names off our list.  He took his job very seriously.  And I mean that.

Last week I went to school once more and took each child's picture.  I had the best time with them.  They thought it was so silly but so funny in a good kind of way.  At one point, we all got tickled and couldn't stop laughing.  And then I came back on Monday afternoon with the completed project.  They'd been on a field trip that day and were watching a movie in class until dismissal time.  A few of them saw me through the window in the door and came out into the hall.  They were so excited and so sweet.  They were worried that Mrs. Blanchard would come out into the hall and see what I was doing before it was finished.  But she didn't.

Once I was done, all of the kids came out into the hall.  And then Mrs. Blanchard came out.  They all yelled, "Surprise!" and showed her the wall in her honor.
There are so many things I loved about doing this for Mason's teacher.  One of my favorite things was reading what the kids wrote.  These are some of my favorites:

I appreciate Mrs. Blanchard because:
When she teaches us, she dances along to the beat of her music.
She has a jolly heart.
She treats us just like her own children, and I know she will never forget us.
When I'm having a bad day, she tries to cheer me up.

That bit about dancing . . . it's true!  Mason has often talked about how Mrs. Blanchard likes to dance.  And so does he so he thinks she's super cool.  Here's what Mason wrote:
When Mrs. Blanchard came out into the hall, she was so surprised.  She took the time to read each card.  I just loved watching and listening to the class read along with her and smile and laugh and point.  And after she read each one, she took her phone and videoed each one so she could show her husband.

After this week is over, I'm going to take the pictures down and put them together in a book that Mrs. Blanchard can keep to remember her 2013-14 class.  And, of course, each day Mason and Hannah Kate have both gone to school with special goodies for their teachers.  Mrs. Williams, Hannah Kate's teacher, has been on maternity leave since the beginning of April so she has had a substitute.  "Mrs. Amy" has been a fabulous teacher, too, and although we were sad that Mrs. Williams would miss the end of the school year with her class, we have really enjoyed Mrs. Amy.  Today the kids took nail polish to their teachers with a tag on it that read, "teachers like you PAINT bright futures."  Tomorrow Mrs. Blanchard is getting an acrylic cup with her name and best.teacher.ever. on it and a tag attached that reads, "thank you for sparking my CREATIVE JUICES this year."  Mrs. Amy is getting some lotion with a tag that reads, "HANDS DOWN you're the best teacher around."

And look.  Don't think more of me than you should.  NONE of these ideas are my own.  I must give a shout out to Pinterest and also to my bestie, from whom I completely and unashamedly stole the mustache idea.

I can't even begin to tell you what Mrs. Blanchard has done for Mason this year!  Teaching is not her job.  Teaching is her passion and her joy.  Teaching is her GIFT.  And she has shared that with Mason and unwrapped in my boy the potential that I knew was there but had no idea how to reach.  She gave him a reason each and everyday to look forward to going to school and to even enjoy school.  Mason excelled academically in her classroom because she created an environment and allowed him the opportunity to perform in the way that is best for him.  He has so much confidence now that he didn't have before.  She believed in him, and he, in turn, began to believe in himself.

And I can't even begin to tell you what Mrs. Blanchard has done for ME this year!  She took a frazzled, discouraged, worn out Mama and enabled me to rest.  I was no longer worried about grades and checking them every Friday.  I was no longer worried about homework and whether or not it got done.  I was no longer worried about Mason's academic future.  She opened my eyes to the fact that Mason is going to be just fine, is going to do just fine.

Not only is Mrs. Blanchard a special teacher, but she's a SPECIAL MAMA, too.  She's the mom of a special needs son in high school and twin 6th grade girls.  She goes home every evening and takes care of her family in ways that many will never understand or be required to do.  And then she comes to school every morning and takes care of my child and 18 other children with him.  As this school year comes to an end, it's so bittersweet for me.  Mason is going to 4th grade!  He's had so many victories this year, done so well academically, grown so much.  And much of that is because of Mrs. Blanchard.  So as excited as I am that summer and a break await us, I'm a little sad about what's on the other side of that.  Mason will go to 4th grade, but Mrs. Blanchard will not.

Teachers are special, especially those like Mrs. Blanchard.  I have the honor and privilege of knowing and being related to some of them.  So to Aunt Harriette and Denise and Kristi (and all the others), I appreciate you, too!  I know that teaching is hard.  So hard for so many reasons.  And I thank you for rising above the many challenges that our public education system is now having to endure and for making a difference in the lives of the kids you teach.  Because MAKING A DIFFERENCE is what you do!  You've made a difference not only for my children but for me.  And for that, I am forever grateful!


Kori Page said...

What a wonderful way to include Mason's whole class, Julie! I love that Mrs. Blanchard was able to connect with him and show him his talents. We've had fun showing our teachers our appreciation this week too. Karli also is finishing 3rd grade & RJ, my son, is finishing 9th. Isn't it crazy how fast they are growing? Take care. I enjoy all your blog posts.

tracy said...

Julie, this is just wonderful. I actually cried while reading this. I've had some special teachers this year for my kiddos as well. My son happens to have a pretty cool ELA teacher this year...named Kristi Connell. :)
Andy many years ago, I had the privilege of being a student aide to your Aunt Harriette.
Keep writing. You really are touching so many lives !