Year End Thank Yous

The end of the year is approaching, and with it, all the end of the year activities, commencements, ceremonies, programs, and goodbyes. It is a time of year to say thank you to those who have worked very hard for our children, to express appreciation, to acknowledge growth and progress.

There are unique ways that you can show appreciation without resorting to yet another plant, gift shop doodad, or too personal a gift.

The last year that I had a child in elementary school, I took an ad in the parent association fundraising journal. I named every single teacher who had ever taught them, including the specials, the subs, the after school recreation teachers, and the administrators who were very hands on. I framed it around a THANK YOU. They all loved it. They had not expected their names to come up!

If the school has a yearbook, ads are a fabulous way to express thanks to particular teachers, or congratulate students. They also last longer than many plants! When my son graduated from high school, his brother and I took out an ad congratulating him and commenting on his status as the school Star Trek expert. The ad said “Warp speed, George. Love Mom and Joe”.

My youngest has given music teachers copies of his latest composition. Often, special things that students or families have made that reflect something about the teacher are appreciated.

When a teacher retired, the faculty association sent out an invite to parents and former students to write down their memories of her for a memory book. The teacher was given a farewell luncheon, and presented with a book of memories – photographs, quotes, recollections, stories, tributes. There were so many surprises, including recollections that were 25 years old, and tributes from people now in their 30s who remembered her influence.

Sometimes, flowers are nice – just the perfect thing. Sometimes you find the right gift shop item. Often the best gifts are the ones that come from the heart and soul. Teachers gifts should be tokens of thanks – not overly personal, not overly expensive (unless given as a group gift). The thought and the thanks are what matters the most!

About that plant – I really do still have the cactus that someone gave me 10 years ago!