Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Teachers are Appreciated!

As we approach the last day of school (TOMORROW!), may I offer my thanks and appreciation to all my children's teachers and to all of you who have chosen to devote your time and talents to the challenges of a classroom. I love your dedication, your resolve and your willingness to serve the children, or the teenagers - who sometimes act like children.

Many years ago I volunteered to do the centerpieces for the Teacher Appreciation Luncheon at my children's elementary school. The theme had something to do with The Fourth of July, or America, or liberty or something. I made fireworks out of formula cans, paper, oasis, cookie pops and picks. Sorry, no pictures. The next year they asked me to chair the event. I took it as a compliment, but I now know they were looking to pawn it off on someone else. So for the last several years the month of April and the first week of May have been a lot of fun for me.

One year, to celebrate our school's recent Blue Ribbon Award, I did a State Fair themed luncheon. I asked Jon to weave the word 'Terrific' with string between two boards like in Charlotte's Web and the teachers sat on a hay bale underneath the sign and had their picture taken. Another year I had all the children in the school trace their hands. Then we turned all their paper hands into flowers for the centerpieces. That year the theme was Helping Hands. And then there was the Cinco de Mayo theme where we brought in blenders and made virgin margaritas in the library complete with sugar rimmed glasses. Last year we went Hollywood and asked the teachers to get all dolled up and walk the red carpet before the luncheon. Fifth graders lined the "red carpet" (a long line of plastic red tablecloth) and pretended to be reporters and photographers with blow-up microphones and disposable cameras. And of course there were fans, screaming for an autograph. That was fun to watch.

I've always had amazing women to help me carry out all the craziness. My vision is always way bigger than the budget or my own capabilities. I love all of them for their support, good humor and friendship. My wingmen through the years have been Dawn B., Jen, Patti, Deena, Dawn M., Kelly F., Allison, Cindy, Jackie, Holly, Jill, Alanda, Kelly J., Nancy, Pam, and many others who have been willing enablers. I've asked them to do some pretty crazy things. Like this:

The Harwood Elementary Walk of Fame. Each teacher's name cricut cut into a star by Patti. She even glittered the paper before she laminated them. So awesome! The director's chairs were given as the raffle gifts. Kelly J. embroidered them with the eventual winners names.

This year, because our school is celebrating its 40th anniversary, I wanted to do something with memories. I'm a lot sentimental that way. The theme was 'Memories are for the Keeping.' It all started when I had an idea for a poem about an elephant and a Whatchamacallit candy bar. You see, Teacher Appreciation Week isn't just about the luncheon. No, it's also about the daily treats the PTO leaves in their mailboxes and the fun gifts the students bring during the week. We would never ask any family to do more than they are able and most of the daily gifts are not something to be purchased. Here is the letter I wrote to introduce the theme to the parents and to let them know what to bring in each day:

First, thank you for all the support you have given to the Parent Teacher Organization of Harwood Elementary. You have given of your time and resources to help make Harwood a place where our children can soar. So we know you will join with us in giving the teachers and staff of Harwood a well-deserved thank you as together we celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week, May 2nd – May 7th 2011. We have chosen “Making Memories for the Keeping” as the theme for the week. Below is the schedule of the school-wide planned events. Please participate as you and your family are willing and able.

Monday May 2rd, Teacher, this is for you!: Many children show their love by drawing pictures for their teachers. Invite your child to draw a picture for their teacher(s) or favorite support staff that is ‘refrigerator worthy.’

Tuesday May 3th, A Luncheon to Remember: We have planned a luncheon to celebrate our school’s hard working, dedicated teachers and their outstanding support staff.

Wednesday May 4th, Memories Are Forever: In order to keep a perfect memory alive forever, you have to have the perfect tools. Bring your teacher a box of crayons or markers, pencils or pens or any tool you think would help your child’s class record a happy memory.

Thursday May 5th, Don’t keep the memory to yourself, Share it!: Did your child come home from school with an especially funny story about their day? Did your child’s teacher make this school year memorable for your child? Spend a moment together and write a note to their teacher(s) or favorite staff to share those moments you’ll always remember.

Friday May 7th, If a picture of a flower is worth a thousand words . . .: Then an actual flower is worth at least a million! Bring in a flower for your child’s teacher(s) or favorite staff member for him or her to take home and remember how much they are appreciated. (Flowers can be store bought or picked from home!)

Parents, we hope you enjoy helping your child honor their teacher during Teacher Appreciation Week. Please remember we are very blessed to have such a wonderful group of teachers and staff. Every teacher and staff member is a credit to our school and the parents and students of Harwood Elementary are privileged to enjoy the benefits of their efforts.

Sincerely yours,

The Harwood Elementary PTO Board and Trustees

Daily Mailbox Treats

Monday - A magnet with a quote from an author named Jacquie McTaggart. It said "My students taught me how to imagine, and how to dream. They gave me wonderful memories, and left footprints on my heart." We used magnet paper and were able give all 66 teachers and staff a magnet for 13 dollars. I wrote a poem to go along with each of the days gifts.

Monday's Poem:

Teacher, Teacher it’s for you.

I drew it with a crayon of blue.

That’s you right there

Upon the stair

With really, really poofy hair

That’s me beside you, looking up,

As happy as a little pup.

‘Cause you’re my teacher and you see

You really mean a lot to me.

Please use this magnet for my picture –

A happy memory to hold and capture.

Tuesday - A piece of string. We really went all out with this one. Three packages of embroidery floss cost 1 dollar. With memory as the theme, and sentiment as the goal, Tuesday's poem says it all:

They say a ribbon on your finger

Will help a memory always linger.

So tie this on and remember

All the days since September.

If you’ve felt celebrated

For all your time and work,

If you’ve felt appreciated

For duties you’d never shirk,

Then those days since September

Are the ones to remember,

And the memories that will linger

Are worth the ribbon on your finger.

Wednesday - The elephant and candy bar. One of the dad's at our school is a Sam's Club manager and he donated a box of Whatchamacallit's for the cause.

Wednesday's poem:

An elephant recollects

The past with memory clear

A face, a place, a time sublime

Remembered year after year.

We hope you will remember

With (mostly) happy thoughts

The time you spent at Harwood

And all the kids you taught.

So when you’re in a rocking chair

And upon the porch you sit

May you think of Harwood fondly

And not as . . . Whatchamacallit?

The elephant was made using circle and oval die cuts and the question mark die cut.

Thursday - Post-it notes. This was the most expensive gift for the week. Two packages of 1.5inchx2 inch post-its cost around 40 dollars.

Thursday's poem:

Tired of to-do lists? Try this, we must insist.

Make instead to-be lists, allow us to assist:

Be talented, creative, diligent and fair,

Be courteous and helpful and always show you care

Be passionate, committed, please help our kids go far,

Be always and forever, exactly who you are.

So post it in the hallway,

And post it on the wall:

Harwood staff and teachers –

The greatest of them all.

Friday- A pen. But not just any pen, a blue Harwood Elementary School pen that one of the mom's on the PTO ordered through one of her business contacts.

Friday's poem:

I think it was Moliere who said -

(A comedic French playwright who now is dead)

If you must write it down to summon to mind,

Then what you write down is not worth your time.

But I’m sure Moliere wasn’t a teacher,

With multiple students (those lovely creatures),

With tests to make up and papers to grade,

Instructions to give - not to mention First Aid.

Assignments like these deserve a reminder

And writing them down, in a book or a binder,

Should not mean they’re worthless or inconsequential,

So accept this blue pen, a recording essential.

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!

Can You Guess Who?

Cindy had the great idea to ask the teachers to bring in a picture of themselves from when they were in elementary school. We turned it into a contest for both the teachers and the students. The teachers pictures were numbered and displayed on a board in the library. Sheets were made up with corresponding numbers and the teachers and students guessed who was who. The teacher with the top correct number of guesses won a digital frame. The runner up won a 25 dollar Best Buy gift card, donated by Best Buy. Students with at least 5 correct guesses were entered into a drawing to win one of two disposable cameras.

The Invitations

Jill is my invitation creator. She is AWESOME! Here is the invitation she came up with for this year. So creative! She took a picture of her computer screen, printed out the pictures and made them look like polaroids. The bottom polaroid on the second page was the RSVP. The teachers removed that and handed it in to RSVP. On the RSVP we asked that they include their name, whether or not they were attending and if they would prefer the Chicken Salad or Vegetarian meal option.

The Centerpieces

Alanda is a photographer. All year she has taken pictures at all the school events. I asked her to print off at least 80 pictures of the teachers with their students to hang from branches at the tables. She did amazing work. She made all the pictures sepia toned, sized them so two pictures fit on one 4x6 print and got more than 80 pictures printed for less than 5.00 at Costco. Jon and I took the kids for a walk through the woods near our home and collected sticks. The other moms and I arranged the sticks in 12 of my quart sized Mason jars. We cut the pictures, attached them to cardstock and hung them with hemp string from the branches.

The Luncheon

Parents at the school have always been so willing to donate for the teacher luncheon and this year was no exception. This year I wanted the meal to be prepackaged. Other years have been a crazy hodge podge of what parents and area businesses were willing to donate. This year I was really specific about what to donate. We asked for croissants, chicken salad, sun chips, bottled water, apples and cookies. When everything was in the only things we had to purchase were the lunch boxes, ice to chill the water and one tub of chicken salad. I had wanted to go with gable boxes but cost wise it wasn't worth it and we were able to purchase 120 lunch boxes from Gordon's for less than 40 dollars. On the day of the luncheon, all my parent volunteers gathered and assembled chicken salad or vegetarian croissant sandwiches. We tied the boxes with the hemp string and included a little tag that said Thank You. We marked the vegetarian boxes. The teachers gathered and were able to enjoy a 'memorable' lunch.

And there you have it - Teacher Appreciation 2011, 'cause Teachers are Terrific!