Barbara-Gruener.jpgIt’s that time of year again, a chance to express and show appreciation and gratitude toward a very special group of women and men, those educators in our lives who work tirelessly to shape the hearts and minds of our most precious resource, our children. And while we don’t have to wait until National Teacher Appreciate Week to show our school faculty and staff how grateful we are for their positive influence and inspiration, the first week of the last month of school is a fantastic time to warm their worlds with kindness so that they can feel that they are valued, treasured and loved.  

Handwritten notes are a beautiful way to let teachers know how much you appreciate them. Specific examples of how they have helped your child bloom and grow this year will make their hearts sing and send their spirits soaring.

Affirmations will be the fuel that your favorite teachers need on days when they find themselves running on empty. Here are some mindful and heartfelt affirmations; print them out on Avery 5160 labels, trim them slightly and affix them to a deck of cards for a creative way to share.   

A gift card to a local diner or restaurant is a win-win treat because not only does it mean that your teacher doesn’t have to cook and clean up the kitchen, but it also invites them to spend some extra time with their own families for a night out. If they have small children, another option might be offering babysitting so that they can have a date night.

Fresh flowers are a beautiful way to appreciate someone special. Floral bouquets brighten up a room visually; their fragrance adds spice for a spell. Ask each student in your child’s class to bring a home-grown flower for a bouquet as unique as they are. Throw in a few colorful helium balloons for a sensory explosion.

Edible arrangements serve as another yummy option to treat that teacher to something tasty. Fruit bouquets, cookie bouquets or even fresh veggies from your family garden will dazzle and delight. If your teacher has dietary restrictions, consider a bouquet of scratch-off lottery tickets or Red Box movie passes.

A class family art project is guaranteed to tug at the heartstrings of your favorite lead learner. Some of my most treasurebooks!.jpgd gifts have included student hand prints on a quilt, their thumbprints on a clay pot, a hand-painted, decorated chair and desk, and a book called Somebody Loves You, Mrs. Gruener filled with heartfelt sentiments and illustrations from my students.

Warm pastries just out of the oven? Talk about your special delivery. This might be a fun time to try that new Sour Cream Coffee Cake recipe so that your kindness is fresh from your kitchen. Or pick up a specialty item at a local bakery to treat that busy educator to breakfast or a mid-morning snack.

Starbucks drinks are another delicacy that your favorite teacher might appreciate. Find out if they enjoy coffee, hot chocolate, or tea. If not, restaurants like Sonic or McDonalds can whip up a refreshing, tasty treat that you can deliver to their desks as a pick-me-up any time during the day.

Lunch out, something school leaders rarely get, would be an amazing surprise. With administrative approval, why not round up some volunteers and give your teacher and that grade-level team an hour of class coverage around lunchtime so that they can go to a restaurant just down the road and enjoy lunch together without having to rush. Or offer to cover a duty; nothing says thank you like the gift of time.

A chair massage so that teachers can unwind and de-stress during their conference time can be a popular way to pamper them. For those who don’t want that physical touch, consider these scent-sational alternatives: Fancy hand lotion, foaming hand soap, scented bath gel, or Epson salt foot soak.

A spa treatment like a manicure, a pedicure, or a facial will be a huge treat with this caveat; it might take a little investigative work to find out which salon your teacher frequents so that you’re sending him or her to a favorite person in their comfort zone.

A charitable donation in your teacher’s name will honor and celebrate him or her in a very personal way. Find out what cause is near and dear to their heart. Donors Choose is an organization specifically designed to support teachers and their classrooms; maybe they even have a grant proposal that you could help fund.

Currently in her 33rd year as an educator, Barbara Gruener, school counselor and character coach at Bales Intermediate School in Friendswood, TX, has had the pleasure of working with and growing alongside learners from every grade level. Author of the blog The Corner on Character and the book What’s Under Your Cape? SUPERHEROES of the Character Kind, Barbara is passionate about positively influencing change through her inspirational keynotes and interactive workshops. When she’s not working, you can bet Barbara is knitting, baking, writing, reading, walking, gardening, napping, or spending time with her husband and their three children.

Barbara Gruener is the 2017 Emcee for the National Forum on Character Education! Register with an extra early bird rate and hear more from Ms. Gruener this October!