Thank you: three ways to support Oklahoma's teachers before the school year ends - MetroFamily Magazine
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Thank you: three ways to support Oklahoma’s teachers before the school year ends


by Callie Collins

Reading Time: 4 minutes 

Oklahoma City family fun keeps us close to the community. I am grateful for the teachers who help my children learn and grow and find their place in that community.

This school year started with so many questions about the state education budget and how to support teachers. It’s easy to forget the people behind the numbers even as they help our children day in and day out.

The semester is now coming to a close. The finality of it all hangs in the air, with school plays, report cards and graduation ceremonies between now and that last day. I can’t finish planning my summer until we say goodbye to my sons’ teachers with a word of thanks.

Teacher Appreciation Week was last week and I saw flower bouquets, school supplies and food trays pass through the doors of the schools my sons attend. We brought my son’s fourth grade teacher a cookie cake and thanked him for all that he does, because we know first-hand that teachers do so much. My husband is a public school teacher and I’m continually amazed, between what I see him step up and lead, and what I see my boys’ classroom staff accomplish. 

If you didn’t have a chance to get something together last week for a teacher, it’s not too late. I always worry about giving gifts that are not what people want, when the same money and effort could have purchased what’s really needed or could make someone’s day. Teachers can only use so many knitted tissue box covers with apples on them or giant pencils to decorate a classroom. What they do want and can use is often really basic, I’ve found out.

How do you get what teachers want? Ask them. 

Isaac, my middle child, is in pre-K and I asked his teachers. Here’s what they said:

Books: Last year, I asked Isaac’s preschool teachers to point me in the right direction with a book each would like to purchase for the classroom. I believe they both chose Drew Daywalt books, that familiar name to most preschool parents who have memorized “The Day the Crayons Quit.” I purchased the storybooks as something to stay behind in the room he loved so much, with a note to the incoming class. We also tucked in a card for each teacher with a Starbucks gift certificate, in recognition of the fact that it takes a lot of energy to keep up with little ones. Click here for a list of suggested titles. I can also recommend “Dad and the Dinosaur” by Gennifer Choldenko and “The Giant Jumperee” by Julia Donaldson. Both are our two newest favorites and I have no doubt a classroom of similar-age kids would love them too.

School supplies and educational toys: Teachers often choose school supplies over anything personally useful. They pay for more supplies than parents ever realize. I heard just last week of a teacher who visited a science museum and bought models out of her own money from the gift shop to bring back to our children’s classrooms. That’s the way a lot of classrooms get unique supplies; that happens because teachers care. Mrs. Glades was one of Isaac’s teachers last year and she suggested “stickers, stencils, bingo dobbers, gift cards to Hobby Lobby, Lakeshore or Mardel’s.” Mrs. Ooten, her co-teacher, seconded those ideas. Click here for a full list of great places to pick up a teacher gift. Nichols Hills’ the learning tree has a downtown Edmond location too; I always shop local when I can and I have no doubt teachers would like to choose something for their students there. My own children would love practically everything that store sells. Also? This transforming robot alphabet set is the one toy I know for certain preschool teachers have said they’d go halfsies on to be able to have in school.

Words of encouragement: Praise goes a long way. Writing a note is free and teachers absolutely appreciate them. My husband has a box full of letters, some from parents, others from students themselves whom we’ve had the privilege to watch graduate.

No kind act goes unnoticed, whether it’s from a teacher or a parent. If you’re interested in further suggestions, click here.

The creativity I see at school goes beyond ABCs and 123s. Phrases like “it takes a special person” fall short because really, the disposition and skill set needed to lead small children into organized patterns of learning and conduct each day is hard to find. If I feel the challenge as a parent with just the three children I’ve known their entire lives, I can only imagine the challenge with almost 10 times as many each year.

Thank goodness for great teachers. Thank you, teachers!

Happy (almost) summer!

P.S. Special thanks to each First United Methodist Preschool & Mother’s Day Out staffer who took the time to offer ideas for this post.

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