While blogger Ralf Schwartz suggested that the best way to thank your teacher is to teach others “by further developing what your teacher has taught you,” I think an equally excellent option is to say thank you.
And so I found myself digging through old report cards to remind me of the name of my grade 7 teacher. Mrs. McLelland was also the school librarian, and she recognized and nurtured my own love of reading by giving me first dibs on incoming books she thought I would enjoy.
I found a link to the school, which I attended for just that one year, on my high school web site. From there was a link to an e-mail address for Mrs. McLelland’s son. I sent him a note, sharing my fond recollection of her kind actions and asking about her. He responded promptly, telling me that sadly, she died in 2001, but she “would certainly be happy that she had a positive influence in your life, which I think is the goal of all good teachers.”
He added that her own first love was reading, something she had instilled in him and his eldest daughter, who was now teaching grade school.
I recalled that one of the books I enjoyed way back then was Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. Thinking I might like to read it again, I took the book from my library shelf and found inside, in the handwriting of that shy 13-year-old, a note that Mrs. McLellan had given it to me at the end of that school year. How cosmic is that?
My point, and I do have one, is that if you have had a wonderful teacher who succeeded in touching and making a difference in your life, please let him or her know. Say thank you. The best teacher gift is not a mug that says “World’s Best Teacher” but the heartfelt note that describes how you’re a better person for having been in that particular class with that particular teacher. I’m sorry that I wasn’t able to tell Mrs. McLelland that, but something tells me that she knew.