Over many years, I have had students give cards over the various special events of the year. Like Hallmark, the busiest time I am opening things are the winter holidays and the end of the year, but sometimes they will produce cute decorated cards for Valentine’s Day and my birthday.
Sometimes the cards are store bought with a ready to go printed message and the student’s name hastily printed. Other times, I get a plethora of stickers and adorable personal messages on construction paper where the parent has sometimes helped with spelling. And occasionally I will get the card purchased from the store, but the student has made extra effort to find something I will like or pertains to my job, like superheroes or the Nutcracker ballet.
But every so often, you will get the special “comes out of nowhere” card where both parent and child combine talents. Last week, I was struggling with the planning of returning online students, continuing to be called out to cover classes short of supply teachers, and the ever evolving political news of the past two years. When I got to my first period French class, my mood significantly improved when one of the students who was transferring to another school surprised me a day before he was to leave with a small but powerful card.
His mother, who works at the local library, helped him make a printed design that said Merci. Although we have students leave during the middle of the year frequently, not having the students every day as a homeroom teacher usually means a quick goodbye passing in the hall. I was touched that they worked together to make sure I received a beautiful card in person.
I am not sure how long it took, but the fact that the parent and child took the time to put something together meant so much to me personally on a gloomy day. While the rest of the day didn’t go perfect, I felt that I was able to cope with the challenges a lot better knowing this family understood the effort we made over the years to this young man.
Over the years many students have taken their time during nutrition break or asked to stay in for ‘work’ only to produce a ‘surprise’ card using colourful paper and supplies from the school. Though not expected from all students, or in the same ways, it is the display of character traits that makes me so happy as an educator to see the development of the kindness these students will take with them throughout their many years after they leave the school.