This week is Teacher Appreciation Week! The parents of Plum’s school have already been sent numerous emails about the week’s festivities. Today, each child was to bring one flower to her homeroom teacher.
Flower shops were closed by the time we got home last night, so I looked into our backyard for some inspiration. Unfortunately, due to one of the worse drought of Southern California, we had voluntarily restricted our sprinkler to run once a week. As such, nothing was really growing there except for the old trees that have been there with the house through thick and thin (rain!).
This morning, an Aha! moment came to us: how about the tissue paper flower that we made at the library the other day?
We picked up the tissue paper flower, still blossoming in our living room, and off we went to school. In addition to the usual morning clamoring with kids running after the first warning bell to get in line, there were fresh cut flowers, bouquets, potted plants. Teachers were radiantly happy, holding flowers from their adoring students. Watching our teachers, perhaps we should pick a day once a week to bring flowers to our teachers. They absolutely deserve to start their mornings this happy!
Kids were immediately drawn to Plum’s unusal selection. Plum went up to her teacher and handed over her homemade flower, looking a bit self-conscious for being different. When we got back in line, Plum’s best friend M’s face was flushed. Looking at her empty hands, I immediately pulled her in and gave her a big hug. Soon enough, tears started pouring down her cheeks, for she had come in without a flower for her teacher. She hid her face in my sweater, and we told her that it was okay. The second bell rang and all the kids filed into their classrooms. This letter is addressed to M:
I know that you felt bad that you did not bring a flower for your teacher today. Your tears told me so. I felt so bad that I gave you a hug and told you that it was okay, but I knew that to you, it wasn’t.
You are the kind of student who is responsible, thoughtful and helpful. When I volunteered at your school, I noted that you were always one of the first to raise your hand to answer questions. When you came to my house for sleepovers, you brought your homework to finish before I took you and Plum to school. Your mom didn’t have to ask me to remind you. Your dad told me that you study on your own before tests. Plum told me that you girls sometimes volunteered to clean up the classrooms during recess. You know what? Being the kind of student that you are, IS the greatest gift to your teachers.
I’ve taught many medical students, residents, fellows. Some of them gave me really nice gifts after they completed their rotation to show me their gratitude. But I’ll let you in on a secret: the ones that are most memorable to me are the ones who are just like you and Plum: responsible, hard-working, and kind.
Students who are passionate about their learning, curious in the world, and thoughtful in helping others are the best gifts that teachers treasure, always.