Standing With Those Who Stand With Us


Thousands of children are saying goodbye today to some special people. These youngsters are moving away from dedicated adults, who have stood by them, encouraged them, and helped them grow socially, intellectually, and personally. It’s the last day of school in Rowan County, where I live.

While the prospect of summer vacation gleams on the horizon of tomorrow, students will spend today saying goodbye to lots of teachers who have invested in their lives the past year. At the same time, those instructors will have to release their pupils into the surging river of the next academic year and watch where it takes them.

With four grown children of my own, I have witnessed and participated in this process over and over. Yet, despite its repetitive certainty, I have never lost my great appreciation and admiration for the countless teachers who have invested in the lives of my children. Every time I witness this cycle, I thank God for our teachers, and I pray for them.

It’s a challenging calling, being a teacher. The truly phenomenal teachers release their hearts and souls into the process of influencing young minds and spirits for good. They stand beside their students and urge them toward success. I have learned over the years that I needed to stand beside those teachers who were standing beside my child. We all need to do that. Here’s how:

Keep Them Informed

Teachers could not help my children at the highest possible level if those educators did not know my youngsters well. I would meet with my children’s teachers, especially the instructors of my special needs child, ahead of time to explain my children’s strengths, challenges, and suggestions to help them. I would stay in contact through email and phone calls to keep teachers informed of each child’s issues and concerns and to receive feedback from the teachers regarding struggles, successes, upcoming assignments, and suggestions. We faced challenges and celebrated achievements together. I knew my children’s teachers wanted to help them succeed. Maintaining open communication with those teachers helped to make that possible.

Offer To Help

Teachers can be overwhelmed with the many responsibilities and requirements placed on them today. Just as they help us and our children, we can offer to assist them. Throughout the years, I have helped to proctor tests, chaperone trips, provide materials for class parties, plan and implement activities, make copies, and donate supplies. I ask teachers what I can do to help, and I act on their suggestions. I want them to be able to focus on teaching, without being excessively burdened by other responsibilities.

Say “Thank You”

Just as students need encouragement, so do teachers. They need to know they are appreciated and are making a difference in the challenging school environment. I would write notes, call, and email teachers to thank them for helping my children. I would let their school administrators know how much I appreciated various teachers. I also would send small gifts of appreciation to teachers at times. I encouraged my children to express their thanks as well. My son Patrick wrote this in our newly released book, “Optimism for Autism”:

I’m grateful for the kindness and encouragement of my teachers. They have worked with me to help me succeed in their classes, and they have been willing to do things a little differently for me so I could learn, even with my challenges. I feel like my teachers and the people at school are my friends. They always have a smile and an encouraging word for me. I have needed that. I need to be told I can do it, because then I believe I can.

If you are a teacher, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart, for all the students you have helped. If you are a teacher, God has given you a very special job. You have the chance to change someone’s life—to help them believe in themselves, to help them succeed. That is what I have experienced. It is a blessing.

Patrick was once diagnosed as “mentally retarded”; yet, he graduated high school with a 4.125 grade point average and received academic scholarships to attend college. After his first year in college, he had a 3.95 grade point average.

I was so grateful when the local school system recently decided to give a copy of our book to all the special needs teachers in our county. I wanted them to hear those words from Patrick, and additional words of thanks from me. Teachers can often hear more negative than positive feedback. They need to hear they are valued and important.

My father is a teacher. My daughter Katie and her husband Curt are teachers. I am so proud of them for blessing so many students with their continued love and devotion.

I hope you will consider taking some action to keep teachers informed, offer to help, and say “thank you” in the future. It does make a difference when we stand with those who stand with us.

Question: Who was your favorite teacher and why? Comment at the link below.

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Patrick and his kindergarten teacher Mrs. Daniel

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Patrick and his high school chorus teacher Mrs. Gore

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