Many of you have seen the bumper sticker which says, “If you can read this, thank a teacher!” Well, in my opinion, it’s THAT time of year!
We know that expressing gratitude is more than just good manners. It turns out that brain research underscores the value of gratitude in maintaining mental health AND it’s great for your physical health too! Which brings me to a story from my junior high school years.
As I entered Mrs Mohr’s science class, no one, I mean NO one would have considered me much of a student. So when I (accidentally) made a 100 on her first science test and she called me to the front of the class to read the answers out so other kids could correct their papers, we were all surprised! The truth was that the formula for success in Mrs. Mohr’s class was simple: Mondays we went over the last test; Tuesdays we read the chapter; Wednesdays we answered the chapter questions; Thursday we reviewed the correct answers and, you guessed it, Fridays we took the chapter test. On that basic academic diet, I did great!
Toward the end of the semester, Mrs. Mohr pulled me aside and confided that I was JUST the kind of girl they wanted in the honor society. In fact, she was going to nominate me. Because of her I became an honor society member . . .and beyond that, my self-concept changed, my grades changed and the trajectory of my life changed.
I kept up with Mrs. Mohr because she went to the Crystal Beauty Salon in Houston where my mom’s close friend, Mary, went. I knew Mrs. Mohr had retired but still lived in the neighborhood. I also heard that she had been crippled by a stroke. So, decades after that science class, when my son was entering high school, how I prayed for a teacher for him that would do what Mrs. Mohr had done for me. I found myself realizing what an indescribable gift she had given me.
I decided to write her a very belated thank you note.
I know she got it because Mom’s friend Mary told us that Mrs. Mohr took the note to the beauty shop in her pocketbook. She would find any occasion to haul it out and read it to whomever would listen. It made me smile to know she’d gotten the message.
The last time I heard of Mrs. Mohr, it was from her minister. He contacted me to see if it was okay to read my note at her funeral.
Each of us has had teachers who made us what we are today. As the end-of-the-school-year approaches, one way to help your kids put their blessings in perspective might be to encourage them to write a thank you note. A great dinner conversation might begin by asking everyone (including parents or grandparents) to tell about a teacher who’d made a big difference in their lives.
We all know that teachers don’t work for the money but for their love of kids. Why not share a little “wealth!” Happy summer!