Teacher Appreciation Day

For this post, I decided to try something new. Although I have included all the words below, this post is presented primarily as a video. So, you can choose to read, but I hope you’ll watch the video and tell me what you think. I know it’s a little rough for a first effort, but I promise to improve as I go along. My plan is to do at least one video a month. Enjoy, and as always, your feedback is welcome and appreciated.


Today on the Penny Collector Blog – We’re talking about teachers. So spit out your gum, grab a sharpened #2 pencil, take your seat, and be quiet.

Not long ago I attended a funeral. The woman who passed away was the mother of one of my wife’s childhood friends. I had never met her, so I only had the funeral itself to go on when it came to memories.

It was a fairly standard funeral, but when the priest got up to give the homily, he said something that quickly got everyone’s attention.

At first, he talked about how significant, the loss of a matriarch is to a family, but then he started talking about the deceased’s woman’s “other family.” Initially, we had no idea what he was talking about. I mean we’ve all seen the TV movies about men who have secret families in other towns, but that sort of thing is a lot harder to pull off if you’re a woman. Well, he didn’t leave us hanging for long.

In short order, he reminded the congregation that the woman was a teacher, and her “other family” was made up of the children she had taught for more than two decades.

As we made the seven-hour drive home from the funeral, I thought a lot about the idea that a teacher’s students constitute a second family, and it led me to exactly what I want to talk about today.

From the time they were old enough to understand, we taught our four kids to appreciate and be thankful for anyone who made an effort on their behalf. They were taught to walk right up to their pee-wee soccer coach, after a practice or game, look them in the eye and say thank you.

When they started school, we encouraged them to do the same with their teachers, at the end of every day. For the first few years of elementary school, we would ask them regularly if they had thanked their teachers, and the assured us that they had.

Teachers are a special breed. They choose the job knowing it would be hard, have long hours, marginal pay and an endless list of frustrations. They go into teaching with an expectation of dealing with both good and bad kids, and good and bad parents. They sign up for this life with the understanding they will run afoul of bureaucracy, budget cuts, unfunded mandated, and bodily fluids.

But, they do it anyway. Why would any sane person sign up for such a thing? Well, the answer is simple, teachers love your kids and want the best for them.

While you are watching TV on a weeknight, teachers are grading your kid’s papers and math tests. When your kids get older and stop being so open with their parents, it is often a teacher they turn to when they need someone to listen.

Nobody gets into teaching for the money. Again, they do it because they love your kids. Teachers love your kids before they’ve even met them. They love your kids while they are teaching them, and the love them long after they’ve grown up and left.

The day after the funeral I took my three boys out for breakfast. They are in 9th, 8th, and 6th grade.


My Three Sons

It’s been a long time since I specifically reminded any of them to go back and thank a coach or a teacher. But, given the state of mind I was in, I asked them, “what do you guys do when a class ends?” All three of them looked at me like I was asking the dumbest question in the history of dumb parent questions. Concerned I might be disappointed in the answer I pressed on anyway asking, “Seriously, class ends, everyone stands up, what do you do next?

With that look only a teenager can give a parent, my son Oliver said, “thank the teacher.” And then, without prompting the other two said, “every class – every day.”

I was both shocked and pleased that the lesson from all those years ago had actually stuck, but I was even happier to know that the people who teach my children are valued every day.

I have written about appreciation and gratitude before, and I probably will again, but with respect to teachers let me be perfectly clear.

They deserve respect and thanks on a daily basis.

This cartoon has been floating around the Internet for a few years and I think it illustrates nicely what has happened to the respect both parents and children have for teachers. This needs to change.


According to the book The Carrot Principle by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton, 79% of people who leave their jobs cite a lack of appreciation as a reason for doing so. 65% of workers in North America report that they weren’t recognized at all for their efforts in the last year.

Teacher appreciation needs to be more than the PTA putting a tray of bagels in the break room once a year.

Sure, there are some bad teachers out there, every occupation has a small percentage of turds that manage to slip through the cracks, but the vast majority of teachers get up every morning driven only by the importance of what they do for your kids and the future of everyone.

So, thank your kid’s teachers and encourage your children to do the same – not just today or tomorrow, but EVERY DAY. If we do this, maybe, just maybe the best teachers will not only feel appreciated, but it will set the stage for the next generation to step up and take on this vitally important job.

We all have teachers in our past without whom, we would not be the people we are today. I’m standing in my workshop where I build and fix things using all kinds of dangerous tools. Where did I learn how to use a table saw safely – from my middle school shop teacher. Oh, and see that sewing machine over there, the one I’m using to make new seat covers for a classic car I’m restoring? That’s right, I learned to sew from my seventh grade home-ec teacher.

So, why not share this video with a teacher who changed your life, or share it on social media and tag all your teachers. Thanking the teachers in your life is now only a few clicks away, so do it. Just do it.

I’m Steve Nazarian, they call me The Penny Collector, and that’s what I have to say… today.


Copyright © 2016 – Stephen S. Nazarian – All rights reserved.

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7 thoughts on “Teacher Appreciation Day

  • This appreciation video brought tears to my eyes in many ways. I think the most prominent reason would be the description of the extended family. I have been a teacher for 39 years and I have never heard anyone explain my feelings of having an extended family with all my students over decades. It was a very touching component to a flawless appreciation soliloquy. In every way this vignette presented a tour de force understanding of the motivations and daily business of loving to teach the kids we have in our classes. I was so moved to hear how Stephen has raised his children to be appreciative of those individuals in their lives each day and further express this appreciation often. This is a masterful way to impart a number of great values in children as well as in adults. The process of gratitude can, indeed, change a person’s world view and lead to a more successful enjoyment of life. I passed this video on to my friends in Facebook and there are a “bunch” of teachers who will see this post and feel the refreshment of knowing Stephen’s words strike so close to who we are and why we teach. This was a completely uplifting blog and it makes me proud as well as grateful to know Stephen and his family. I am thankful for this at a time in my retirement when I occasionally feel alone and wondering how “my extended family” is doing after all these years. Or I I think: “I wonder how all my kids are doing”.

  • Hi Steve,
    I listened to your latest blog, thanks to Gene’s posting on Facebook. I just want to reinforce Gene’s comments. I taught social studies mostly in the Penfield middle schools. I won’t count the number of years in the classroom but suffice it to say that toward the end I was teaching the children of my earliest students. During my first year of teaching, I earned $4,300 gross. From that amount we had 8% withheld to pay for our own social security. Talk about living from paycheck to paycheck!

    I remember so many of my former students and where they sat in my classroom…even those very first students when I taught in PHS as Miss Williams. I still write Christmas cards to some of them.

    Thank you for your raising your children to have appreciation and respect. In so many cases these values are missing in today’s children. It makes me sick at heart to see this happening.

    I just want to add my voice to Gene’s to say your blog “nailed it.” I often think of “my” kids and wonder where they are, what they are doing and if they are happy. As a teacher you do wonder what kind of impact you had upon your students….if any. Also I have learned that the kids you have touched the most and had the greatest impact on, are not necessarily
    the ones YOU (as the teacher) think you have reached. It is often the reticent, less confident child who cannot express himself.

    Thank you for your blogs. I truly enjoyed watching your “Making your video Christmas cards blog” this December. Please continue doing this whenever you have the time and the inspiration.

    I remember both you and your brother.

    Carol Hartman

    • Carol! Great to see your comments here. I think of our “pro-bowl” class of teachers we had in the good old days and all I learned from my colleagues. Miss you as well and thanks for your spot on comments.


  • What a great post and reminder of the importance of teachers. I don’t have children but if I ever do, I hope to teach them the same values you’re clearly instilling in your sons. Kudos.

  • Great start on the video blogging! I am encouraged and energized by it. BTW, I have already shared the content with my “principal” wife – but not with any of the minor ones (joke!)for those who never understood the spelling anomaly of the operative word in question!
    Talk soon! You’ll go farther (or is it further)!
    Len Paganelli

  • Your video blog is a great tribute to teachers everywhere, Steve. A “thank you” from a student at the end of a class is touching, appreciated, and motivating! You are an exemplary parent….

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