I read this message on a bumper I was probably too close to the other day and I smiled. May is National Teachers Appreciation Month so if you’re looking for an opportunity to say thanks, this is it. After parents and grandparents spent the past month helping with teaching and homework for home bound students, I suspect there will be extra thanks swirling around our teachers, principals and other school personnel.

The first week sheltering in place I received a video from a frazzled mom who couldn’t do fourth-grade math because she didn’t know what to do with the “one” she couldn’t carry over. She was ready to award teachers the Nobel Prize, and even parents who ordinarily helped with homework nightly found themselves in an awkward place when they were responsible for imparting subject matter that wasn’t a foreign language, but it was totally unfamiliar.

Teachers make their work look so effortless that most of us don’t have a clue what it takes to control a classroom, plan stimulating but mandated lessons, earn the admiration and respect of students and peers, have measurable outcomes, be psychologist, motivator,  parent, role model, deal with parents, and sometimes in crumbling and ill-equipped buildings. Perhaps after lots of miles spent in the moccasins of our nation’s teachers, things will change.

My husband Roger was studying to be a teacher when we met and it was then that I realized that teachers were human, like the rest of us. They grocery shop and put their pants on one leg at a time. As a child most of our teachers lived outside our community so we rarely saw them anywhere other than school. I was sure they worked 24 hours planning homework and punishments for little knobby-kneed girls like me who talked too much.

When I walked into my first classroom as a teacher more than 30 years ago, I learned firsthand what the words “To teach is to touch a life forever,” meant. I was so proud when my students “got” the subject matter and I loved every moment of the 16 and a half years I spent shaping the next generation of journalists. I worked to give them 110 percent every time because that’s what I expected.

On day one I told these bright minds I expected one of them to win journalism’s top prize, the Pulitzer, and since I didn’t know which one of them it would be, I would treat them all like Pulitzer winners. They stood taller and tried a little harder because they knew I was expecting greatness. I took enormous pride in their accomplishments and I thank God for this precious gift.

This month show some appreciation for teachers and other school personnel in your community. They have a tough job and when they do their best work, everybody soars. Teachers deserve our admiration, respect, and a wage that reflects the care and expertise they bring to each child.

This month particularly, send a nice note or a gift card and share what you love and appreciate about teachers and their work. Show up before there’s a problem. Volunteer to help around the classroom and lift the teacher up to your child instead of complaining to your child about things you don’t like. Replenish supplies—teachers usually pay for “extra” things they need to make their classrooms welcoming and special so help out if you can.

Teachers make the difference.

If you’re looking for additional ideas, visit “25 Simple Ways to Say Thank You to Teachers” ThoughtCo, Feb. 11, 2020.

I am all ears to know about your thanking ideas at #drbondhopson on Twitter and Facebook!

Looking for inspiration, empowerment, uplift, straight talk, an encouraging word to brighten your day? You’ve arrived! Meet Dr. Cynthia Ann Bond Hopson, best-selling author, educator, inspirational speaker, sistergirl–she’s all that and more. All the way from Stanton, TN (you can’t get there from here) to 50 states, six continents and everything in between, she’s wise, witty and altogether wonderful. She enthusiastically invites you to slow down, sit a spell, and share a giggle or two.

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