~Jonathan Lockwood Huie"
On multiple occasions throughout the course of the school year, I am fortunate to receive tokens of appreciation from my students and their families. One occasion occurs just prior to the start of the winter break and a later occasion occurs at the conclusion of the school year. The thoughtfulness of the students is always something that warms my heart. While the the thought by itself is very much appreciated, the thing that is most meaningful comes in the sentiments that they write within their cards or from the nature of the gifts themselves.
The sentiments in the cards and the gifts themselves are clear reflections of the relationships that we have built throughout the course of the year. A gift card to Barnes and Noble to support my love for reading or my passion for sports or history. A gift card for ITunes to support my passion for music. A box of candy to feed my sweet tooth. These gifts are not random and are special because they reflect the effort that my students have made in building a relationship with me, just as I have with them. That is a wonderful gift in itself.
We are all familiar with the phrase " it's the thought that counts". When I consider the thoughtfulness of my students, I am filled with gratitude that they have made it a priority to use a gift or a card to convey their appreciation for my efforts and to demonstrate my importance in their lives. Although the students take advantage of multiple opportunities to present me with gifts of their appreciation, the reality is that I receive gifts from them on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. I am privileged to observe their social, academic, and athletic growth throughout the course of the school year. These opportunities to witness and ultimately celebrate various types of student achievement are incredibly special gifts, in their own right.
When a student reveals a smile that says " I understand", that is a gift. When a student who has lacked confidence when presenting in front of their peers suddenly nails it, that is a gift. When students take initiative in the classroom to guide and support each other, that is a gift. When a student/athlete earns a personal best and a victory on their last throw of the season, that is a gift. The beauty of these gifts is that they are spontaneous and they occur as a result of our collaborative efforts and hard work. Furthermore they occur within a culture of learning which promotes and celebrates student success. A culture that has been passionately cultivated by the commitment of all of the stakeholders within our learning community.
As I "wrap up" another successful school year, I reflect with pride and humility on the numerous gifts that my students have presented me with over the course of the school year. Whether sentimental, material or as a result of their individual or collective achievements I have been blessed by their generosity, love and commitment. As September looms on the horizon and with it the coming of a new school year, I look forward to the opportunity to build relationships with a new group of students. Moreover, I look forward to observing their growth throughout the course of the upcoming year. But mostly I look forward to the positive impact that their effort, commitment and achievements will have upon me. That is the greatest "gift" of all.