6 Awesome Acts of Teacher Appreciation You Wish You'd Thought Up

After all, a teacher's favorite gift is a thank-you.

Teacher Appreciation Day Week
(Image: Teach for America)
Suzi Parker is a regular contributor to TakePart. Her work also appears in The Christian Science Monitor and Reuters.

Teachers log long hours in and out of the classroom. Their acts of kindness and selflessness often go overlooked by students, parents, and even their peers. But not always. Every once in a while, someone will organize an unexpected show of gratitude that leaves a teacher crying tears of happiness. Let the beautiful moments that follow inspire you to organize your own act of appreciation.

1. Surprise Party

Alison Corbett, an English teacher in Denver, was the recipient of a well-deserved surprise from her students at Montbello High School. Some other teachers helped out the kids by asking Corbett to leave the room that day. While she was gone, her students scrambled to put on leis and T-shirts picturing Corbett as Rosie the Riveter and saying, “We Can Do It, Class!”—a line Corbett often says to her students. One kid says in the video, “Her face just lit up.” The celebration includes a rap written just for her and ends with a big old group hug.

2. Better Than Birthday Cake

Jasmine Forte, a parent and blogger in California, surprised her son’s elementary school teacher with much-needed school supplies for all her students. “With so many budget cut-backs going on we decided to surprise our son's 2nd grade teacher with a cake made up of all the necessary school supplies for 20 students!” Forte blogged on So You Think You Can Mom? The gift cost less than $25 and included crayons, glue, pencils, antibacterial wipes, and tissues.

3. Glee Fantasy for a Day

Teachers may want to skip class on their birthday, but Judi Holst, a Colorado middle school teacher, recommends just the opposite. Although she had considered taking the day off to squeeze in some spa time, she decided to head in to her language arts class. Birthdays are a big deal for Holst, and she makes sure that each student feels special on his or hers. “We pound on our desks, we listen to the birthday person talk about their birthday plans, I give them a birthday sticker (yes, 8th graders still like stickers), and they get a piece of candy,” she writes on her blog. On her special day, her eighth graders gave her something she had always wanted: a Glee moment. She walked into class, and they broke out into Journey’s “Don't Stop Believin'.” Here’s the video:

WFSB 3 Connecticut

4. Super Bowl Dream Comes True

Brittani Mango is a science teacher at Windham High School in Willimantic, Conn., and her students know that if there's an activity she loves more than science projects, it's watching the Seattle Seahawks. As she dreamed of attending the Super Bowl last week, her students made it happen. Seattle wide receiver Sidney Rice was giving away an extra ticket on Twitter, and Mango’s students took to social media to make sure their teacher won it. More than a hundred tweets later, Rice replied, “hey Ms. Mango, book your flight, you're in.” And she was. She spent last weekend cheering her team to victory, in person, at the Super Bowl.

5. Full-School Flash Mob

Students surprised retiring principal Roger Boddie with an unforgettable all-school flash mob. A longtime educator at Hingham Middle School in Hingham, Mass., Boddie was asked to film a video about construction at the school as a ruse to get him up on the roof. When he peered over the side of the building, he saw his students. “What the heck is this?” he asked. Again, Journey’s “Don't Stop Believin'” is the song of choice. Students danced and held up a "Thank You" sign. You'll have to watch the video to see the effect it has on Boddie.

6. International Teacher Thank-You Mural

An ongoing teacher appreciation project of the National Education Association, the "Teacher Thank-You Project" in Washington, D.C., is an eight-foot-high, 75-foot-wide painting of hundreds of teacher thank-you notes from around the world, and it has a companion version online. Inspired by the common answer teachers give when asked what they most want, the project began in 2007 and continues to grow. 

This article was created as part of the social action campaign for the documentary TEACH, produced by TakePart's parent company, Participant Media, in partnership with Bill and Melinda Gates.

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