Appreciation, To Those Who Teach

Erika Petrelli
Erika Petrelli

This week is Teacher Appreciation Week…  so, if you are a teacher, a group leader, a coach, a mentor, a Big Brother or Sister, a bus driver, a school nurse, a counselor, a receptionist, a security guard, a cafeteria worker, a custodial staff, a class aide, an after school teacher, a principal, a superintendent, a parent volunteer, a speech specialist, a peer leader, a camp counselor, a cross-cat specialist, or ANY OTHER PERSON who has the great honor, blessing, and privilege to work with young people on a regular basis:  to you, I say thank you. Thank you so much.

The best gift a teacher, of any kind, can give a young person is the comfort that they are seen, heard, and cherished as the unique individuals they are.

One of my favorite books for young people is The Dot, by Peter Reynolds, which has since inspired an annual “Dot Day” in schools across the world.  Why? Because it tells the story of a young girl who didn’t much believe in herself, and a teacher who showed her that anything is possible, and that everyone’s “mark” on this world is beautiful. And because of that teacher’s belief, the young girl’s belief in herself grew and grew… until she was able to infuse that same belief into a trembling young boy who didn’t think he could possibly ever be anything like her.

When you believe in them, you make it okay for them to believe in themselves. And when they believe in themselves, they start to look for ways to help others to believe in themselves too.

So thank you for showing up every day to do just that.

All of us have been influenced by a teacher of some kind throughout our lives (and our teachers sometimes show up in the unlikeliest of places), and all of us have the ability to influence a young person today.

Brad Montague, of Montague Workshop (and creator of Kid President) put this challenge out two years ago, asking people to complete the prompt:

“I am _______________________________ because you were _______________________”

Watch him explain it here.


Who are you today, because someone was something to you then?

And how can you “be who you needed when you were younger”?  

(As we lead up to Mother’s Day, I’ll offer mine today to my first and best teacher, my mom.  “I am unstoppable because you gave me wings from the start and have always believed there were no limits to the heights of my flight” Thank you, Mom)

Erika Petrelli

By Erika Petrelli

Erika Petrelli is the Senior Vice President of Leadership Development (and self-declared Minister of Mischief) for The Leadership Program, a New York City-based organization. With a Masters degree in Secondary Education, Erika has been in the field of teaching and training for decades, and has been with The Leadership Program since 1999. There she has the opportunity to nurture the individual leadership spirit in both students and adults across the country, through training, coaching, keynotes, and writing. The legacy Erika strives daily to create is to be the runway upon which others take flight. If you enjoy these blogs, you should check out her interactive journal, On Wings & Whimsy: Finding the Extraordinary Within the Ordinary, now available for sale on Amazon. While her work takes her all around the country, Erika calls Indiana home.