The Gift of Gratitude

The Gift of Gratitude
Posted on 01/23/2020
The Gift of Gratitude

Whether you see it on a T-shirt, as a sticker, or in a hashtag, being “grateful” or “thankful” shows up everywhere for a few weeks in November. When I was a child, saying “thank you” was one of the first phrases my parents taught me as part of having good manners. As an adult, I have grown to appreciate this expression and try to instill thankfulness into my own children. This concept becomes more of a challenge every year when it seems we rush right past the thankful part of Thanksgiving and into the frenzy of gifts and presents that characterize December. So, what if gratitude was a concept we celebrated all year long, not just during holiday seasons?

It is no secret that our teachers and staff members provide students with an education that tops the list as the best in the state. Whether scoring a perfect 100 percent on the state’s Annual Performance Report or having our high school seniors earn millions of dollars in college scholarships, Blue Springs teachers work diligently to create educational experiences that develop academic success. What makes our classrooms thrive are the gifts our teachers and staff share that are harder to spot and measure. I am so grateful for the talents and abilities I see the Blue Springs School District share with students all year long, not just the holiday season. Even though it may not be packaged with a shiny bow, our teachers and staff members give their students the gifts of creativity, determination, empathy, generosity, resiliency, compassion, and kindness every day.

We know that educators spend their time writing lesson plans and grading papers, but did you also know our staff members cultivate creativity and resiliency? This year, two teams from Cordill-Mason Elementary and Delta Woods Middle School were recognized as top 20 finalists in the annual Battle of the Brains challenge. Teachers challenged students to think beyond the textbook and participate in this competition that connects students with Burns & McDonnel architects, engineers, and designers to bring STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) ideas to life.

I witness countless bursts of creativity all school year as students are encouraged to create a game to simulate the Constitutional Convention or determined to develop skills in a second language and review vocabulary terms for a fourth time. Nothing compares to the proud smile I see on a fellow teacher’s face when they share the profound poems written by their students or celebrate the successful quiz score for the student that has been struggling with fractions.

    Beyond the classroom, Blue Springs is home to some extremely talented athletes, musicians and artists. But it is the compassion and kindness of our coaches and students off the courts and stages that makes them champions. This fall, volleyball teams at both Blue Springs High School and Blue Springs South High School came together to raise over $16,000 to fight cancer in the Dig for the Cure game. These coaches and teachers may spend a season developing exceptional players, but dedicate years to fostering champions of character – which can’t be reflected in win-loss percentages.

Compassion is shared with all students, and even at a young age, our elementary students participate in the annual Community Unity Week Food Drive to benefit our local Community Services League. Principals, teachers and staff members help our students to develop empathy and encourage awareness of the needs in our whole community, both in and out of our classrooms. Students and parents, with the help of local businesses and staff, showed the tremendous generosity of our entire community and worked together to donate a record of 64,458 items this year. This partnership is a tremendous example of the positive power of working as a team towards a common goal.

It is this type of partnership between parents, students and teachers working together that fosters success for our students. As a parent, I can relate to the sense of concern when I see my child’s teacher calling, but I have also realized that this person spends hours with my children every day and I am glad she takes the time to share the accomplishments and struggles of my students that I don’t get to witness. A phone call from a teacher means that teacher cares enough to take time in their day or evening to talk to you and create a solution to support your student’s success as a team, whether it is to address academic concerns, behavior concerns, or even applaud an accomplishment.

I have three children of my own that share my name, but I work with 170 young adults that I call my “kids” at school every day. I answer questions about their homework, help them with locker combinations, and ask them to slow down in the hallways, but I also cheer for them after school at cross country meets and worry if they are warm enough as they get on the bus in shorts in January. Whether you are a coach, youth minister, or parent you know that working with children can be both enjoyable and exhausting at the same time. The rewards of working with kids are priceless, but so is the gift of a simple thank you. Be it September, February or May, I am grateful for the bus drivers, coaches, custodians, cafeteria staff and teachers that take care of our kids. With whom will you share the gift of gratitude?