Why Elementary School Teachers are May’s Real Heroes.

May, in our home, has officially been named the “Month of Too Much”.  End of the school year projects and parties, field days, muffins for mom and author’s tea, last minute summer camp sign ups and teacher conferences, all while winding down a busy work schedule to accommodate the impending months of popsicles, swim team, beach trips and layers upon layers of fun.

It’s easy to get lost in the business of May’s 31 days and miss some of the sweet moments that would normally make time stand still for a mom of young children.  It’s also easy to be so focused on the upcoming pool days and registrations for the new school year, that we forget to chew on and digest the days of the last one.  This is why I love the celebrations that take place towards the end of the year.  The times that the classroom doors are thrown open and parents are invited in to see and experience the exponential amount of growth that their little people have experienced over the past ten months.  It’s at these functions that we can take a minute to look at our children’s teachers and try to wrap our minds around everything they have done for the most important people in our life.

The 9-10 month school year befittingly falls right in line with the time that a baby spends in the womb. How important and vital everything that happens during a pregnancy is for that little life growing … now think about the fact that our children spend relatively the same amount of time in the classrooms of the teachers that they are paired up with each year.  Teachers that welcome them with open arms at the beginning and spend the school year getting to know, love, and assist them into becoming even better versions of themselves than they were before they were a name on the roster.

My first grader was eagerly clutching her folder of writings when I arrived at her classroom for Author’s Tea yesterday.  Eyes big, smile wide, she was so ready to share the transformation of her pen that had taken place over the past few months.  Before her teacher released the cubs to their mama bears waiting by the door, my daughter raised her hand and declared, “This is the best grade I’ve ever been in”.

And my heart almost burst out of my chest.

Because what words are better to hear for a mother than those of JOY coming from the mouth of her babe? What is more comforting than knowing that for each minute of the day that your child is not in your own care, she is being nurtured by someone who is pouring their heart into their vocation as a teacher?  Someone that has chosen to spend day in and day out molding and strengthening the hearts and minds of our children? We mothers may be overwhelmed and swamped with the demands of this final month of school, but in most cases these teachers are moms and dads too with the same life demands that they put on the back burner each morning with the ring of the first bell.

As I reflect on this past year, I fail to find teacher gifts that can appropriately say “thank you” to some of the most important people in my children’s lives.  How can I appropriately thank my 3rd grade daughter’s teacher for somehow miraculously bringing her out of her shell this year?  For taking the time to observe and slowly approach the little heart that was so anxious at the beginning of August, and hold its hand through the ups and downs of the drama filled school year?  How do I say thank you for her brother’s teachers that consistently challenged him to go above and beyond in the classroom and cheered on his every accomplishment, inside and out of school?  I struggle too with saying thank you, in the capacity that I desire, to my youngest’s teacher.  Kindergarten teachers deserve a level of gratitude that is hard to buy with currency.  They take on the massive responsibility of welcoming the littlest of the school age children into a new world and help them adapt and thrive in it.  And then there is my first grader’s teacher, the one who took on my Mowgli child and who from day one connected with her in a way that put my mother’s heart at ease.  The fact that my wild one came home most days with a positive report free of trouble was a miracle comparable to that which occurred at the Wedding of Cana.  She not only grew by leaps and bounds, but she loved every day of it.

So as we check off the final days of school from the calendar, toss out the old artwork sent home and attend the end of the year celebrations, let’s remember to give a special thanks to the people that were the most important reasons why this was a good year.  As the children are sent home with awards for this and that and we pat ourselves on the back for another year survived, don’t forget to salute the incredibly patient, kind, and selfless teachers who are our real heroes this May.



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