5 people to thank at school today
So often, we go through our days so focused on the students that we forget to notice each other. Here are 5 people to thank at school today.
1. A custodian
Custodians, especially the head custodian, put in far more hours than we often give them credit for. They take care of all that stuff we don’t want to deal with like that coffee spill in the hallway, the vomit on the gym floor, and the dead mouse in the work room.
Not to mention, the custodians are often the personality of the hallways. The custodian at my daughter’s elementary school, Mrs. Mercy, brings not only smiles and kind words, but hugs to students as they pass. She was one of the first people my daughter met at kindergarten registration and she often comes home talking fondly about her interactions with Mrs. Mercy during the day.
The reach of our custodians goes far beyond their job description. The head custodian at my school, Mr. Perry, is often seen fist-bumping students in the hall and sharing his infectious smile. Not only does he help keep our building running smoothly, but he also helps us feel safe. His calm and positive presence is comforting. It is amazing what a difference that makes in a building.
2. The front desk associate
Depending on the size of your school you may have one or two “School Office Associates.” The school COULD NOT RUN without these individuals. They not only answer the phone, but they manage the principal’s schedule, organize paperwork (often including contracts), and are the face of the school as visitors enter. They are also the first line of contact for teachers with questions.
I’m known to call the front office with questions like: “Can you radio Mr. Perry to get a giant recycling bin upstairs?” or “Who should I ask about ____?” Our amazing front desk associates always have the answers.
Additionally, most office associates work 12 months. While teachers are enjoying their summer break, these hard working men and women are still manning the front desks of schools all over the country.
3. The guidance secretary
Have you met your guidance secretary? If you are in a high school, he or she likely does more than you can imagine on a daily basis. The number of phone calls this person makes and answers, often with parents upset about schedules or grades, is unmatched. This person is also the front line for the counselors when students dealing with trauma or other mental health concerns enter the guidance area.
4. Your teacher mentor
Is there someone in your building, another building, a previous teacher of yours, or someone in your social media PD network that has helped you in your journey as a teacher? Have you stopped to thank them either in person, or in writing? You should.
So often the rewards of teaching are intangible and, as educators, we have the opportunity to thank each other and commend each other for the hard work that we do. Don’t miss that opportunity.
5. A special education teacher
My mom taught special education for 30 years. Hearing her stories on a daily basis when I was a kid gave me unique insight into the trials and triumphs of being a special education teacher.
These teachers have more paperwork and more meetings than any other teachers in the building. They are on the phone more often with parents and they are on the hook legally for more accommodations. They are also teaching, coaching, mentoring, planning, and assessing as much or more than the rest of us.
If you work closely with a special educator, or even if you don’t, give them a shout out today. Thank them for their hard work and all that the do for our students with special needs (and those without).
Ways to thank these people
A handwritten thank you
Very little goes farther in our hearts than a handwritten thank you note. It doesn’t need to be long. Something as simple as this could make someone’s day: I know how hard you work and I want you to know that it does not go unnoticed. You are very much appreciated and our school would not be the same without you.
A small unexpected gift
If you feel so inclined as to go beyond just the note and get a small gift I have some suggestions. If you are gifting at a “off time” –meaning not around a holiday, birthday, or appreciation day– a home made treat is often appreciated. Around the holidays and other special days, though, these people are probably already burnt out on baked goods.
Instead of baked goods you could get them a small gift to go with your thank you note. Here are some suggestions:
Specialty Sticky notes: We all need sticky notes right? I know some educators that would lose their minds over these Cute Cat Sticky Notes. Three hundred and sixty for $7.99; yes, please.
A small gift card: We are educators. We’re not made of money, but even a small token of appreciation like a $10 or $15 dollar gift card can go a long way in showing our thanks. If you don’t know a person’s specific interests an Amazon gift card is a no brainer.
Succulents are all the rage: I found a deal on Amazon where you get five potted succulents for $16.95. You could give each person one and only spend $3.39 each. What a cute little decoration for their desk at home or work.
No matter how you do it, take the time to thank someone in your building today for their hard work and dedication.
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