I sent this to an incredible group of staff members this week. They inspire me. They encourage me. They bring it every day. It’s so hard to put into words the power of their contributions, but this is what I shared….
They’re just two words. How could that be sufficient? They can seem trite and superficial. People use these same words in contexts ranging from holding a door to being handed a piece of paper or receiving a container from a drive through window. How could those two words be enough to address the enormous complexity of the value brought to the lives of others?
They aren’t even long words. They are simple words. Elementary students learn how to read and spell them early in their academic careers. In a world language class, you learn the phrase early in the course whether it’s “xie xie,” “gracias,” “merci,” “danke,” or “gratias tibi.” “Thank you…” Can that really cut it?
This week on social media, iCalendars and in emails from marketing firms, we were reminded of “Teacher Appreciation” day or week or whatever cosmic period of time fit the needs of the promoter. Some of us got requests to show appreciation to teachers we’ve had in the past or to teachers who educate the special people in our lives. Maybe we found a quote that was inspirational or we reflected on mentors in our past who invested in us. Maybe we sent money or made goodies, or maybe we just thought about why we do what we do. Maybe we got a text message at 6:30am on Wednesday as one of our teachers did, from a parent that said they were thinking of us and wanted us to have a good day because they recognized the importance of what we do.
A student who is not a Jenks lifer, never scored a touchdown, never got recognized at an assembly, never held an elected office and never played an instrument found a home at JHS. He found a home when he moved here from another country. His mom had died and his dad sent him here to live with friends and relatives. As bad as it was to show up in Jenks without a support system, it was better than remaining where he was. He found a home in a teacher’s classroom. He found a family and a support system. It wasn’t easy and he almost gave up several times. Honestly, if I was him, I probably would have. However, this is what he shared about his teacher on Tuesday. “I remember that one time I asked God for someone to listen to me and you came to my life, and I just want to say thank you. I found the strength that I need to overcome my situation and I want to thank you.”
He said “thank you.” He shared those two words. Those two powerful words. Those words can carry and sustain us. Those words can encourage us. Those words can spur us on to act on the behalf of others. Those words can make us smile. Those words can make us cry. Those are two powerful words.
So although they can seem trite or superficial, please accept the phrase, “Thank you.” Thank you for caring about the students who walk our halls. Thank you for caring about them before the start time of 7:50am and after the last bell at 2:30pm. Thank you for caring about their day, their feelings, their health, their family, their new car, their admission to college, their rejection letter, their newly discovered interest and everything in between. Thank you for helping students find the strength they need to overcome their situations. Thank you for equipping them for the step off the commencement stage Monday night. Thank you being the one that they asked God for.
Thank you for being at JHS.
That was it. If you’re an educator, my gratitude extends to you as well. You’re also the answer to someone’s prayer. If you’re a parent, or grandparent or a sibling and you’re going the extra mile to encourage and affirm the young people in your life, my gratitude extends to you as well. Keep on keepin’ on and do it for them!