Dear American teacher,

One week isn’t long enough to show our appreciation to teachers, nor is a month or even a year.

It takes a lifetime to summon up an appropriate amount of gratitude for those dedicated souls.

The swells of thankfulness move in a steady pace long after a student leaves that classroom for the last time.

For instance, you’ll send up a prayer of gratitude to your eighth grade math teacher, Mr. Gurholt, 44 years after you raced to his chalkboard to speed compute the problem he’d drawn there as part of his effective and really fun math relay races. Those skills come in handy today as you stand in the pet store checkout line and try to figure out how many crickets to buy for your gecko when the life expectancy of your crickets averages 10 days and your gecko eats five medium crickets three times a week.

You’ll listen to your adult kids opine in thoughtful, passionate ways and thank Mr. Hermansen, the World History teacher who challenged them all to develop those skills so many years ago.

You’ll be grateful to Mr. Thaldorf, the band instructor who set such high standards that, even though your son may never play the baritone again and your daughter hardly ever takes her clarinet from its case, they can still play those instruments. Even more importantly, their respect for time and tempo will transcend that band room, as will the thrill of team excellence that happens when each section in a band, orchestra or choir achieves it together.

You’ll probably send a note this year to thank Ms. Tegge, a first grade teacher who came up with all kinds of creative and kind ways to keep a little guy you care about on task, and you’ll wonder, as you write it, how her many life lessons will manifest in his fascinating brain as he grows up.

You’ll see a comment from Mrs. Reppert and remember a teacher who not only treated the kids in her classroom with a sense of humor and respect, she also paid kind attention to the little sister who had to tag along each week while her mother listened to book reports.

You’ll chuckle every time you lace up your running shoes and remember your daughter’s sixth grade science project, for which she sawed one of your running shoes in half, and Mr Olson, the teacher who encouraged her creativity and drive.

I could list a hundred teachers who have positively impacted my family’s life in more ways than they ever imagined and I could trace that influence through years and even generations.

So, I am more than grateful today and every day to say Happy Teacher Appreciation Week to all the really good people out there changing the world.

I think every fourth grader should have a teacher like Mrs Reppert. I’m sure glad Charlie did.
My daughter Katherine sawed my running shoe in half for the project she worked on with her friend Heidi. (Heidi’s little sister Ruby is photobombing this picture. Ruby is now 24-years old. Times flies and you can too if you wear the right running shoe!)
I don’t have a picture of Mr. Gurholt but I do have this gem of a yearbook photo of me in eighth grade. I’d love to tell you turtlenecks under white collared shirts were in style back then, but I honestly think it might just have been me. Also, I grew six inches that year so maybe my wardrobe choices were limited.
Mr. Thaldorf and the Appleton North marching band.
Again, not a teacher photo but this picture makes me laugh too because poor Vinnie is trying to smile but he’s really mad at his kindergarten teacher for calling him Vincent and he’s about to threaten to never go back. He recovered, though, and enjoyed too many gifted teachers in his life to name.

3 thoughts on “Dear American teacher,

  1. Loved this! I’ll share it with Mr. Gurholt’s vivacious widow, a retired teacher herself, now in her 90’s. Together they followed just about every school sports team in central Wisconsin—and remembered the young people who played on them!! Thanks, Laura.

  2. I remember the relay races in Mr. Gurholt’s class! What a fun way to learn how to solve math problems – and to help a shy student tap into her competitive side!

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