Students show gratitude to those who’ve helped


Contributed photo

Health Teacher Maryssa Flentye received a thank you from one of her freshmen.

Amanda Ngo, Production Editor

Most students have a teacher or staffmember who has offered words of encouragement when they needed it the most, but only a small portion ever take the opportunity to express their gratitude.

Recognizing this, Burroughs English Teacher Jamie Blum created a unique warm-up for her classes. She gave her students the first ten minutes of class to think of a teacher, coach, administrator, cafeteria worker, or other school staff member and write a card about the impact that this person has had on their life.

The inspiration came from Blum’s personal experience.

“When I was a first-year teacher struggling to keep my head above water, a student wrote me a thank-you note for taking the time to talk to her when she was having a rough day. It reminded me that even when I am feeling overwhelmed, I am making a difference,” said Blum. “I realized how such a simple thing could make such an impact. I figured more of my colleagues might need that encouragement as well, so I turned it into a small assignment.”

Blum’s freshmen, juniors and seniors reacted differently to the assignments, she said. Older students who are more familiar with the school environment know precisely whom they want to write to, while younger students tend to be hesitant and unsure of how to express themselves. But gradually, they all warm up to the assignment.

“Within a few minutes, they’re sharing stories of teachers they love and fun memories they have in their classrooms,” she said. Some chose teachers because they helped them understand a subject better; others valued how they took an interest in them personally.

Junior Conner Hill appreciated chance to do the assignment.

“I just thought of it as another assignment, but once I started thinking about it, I realized how important it is to tell people I’m grateful for them.” He said he then put more effort into the assignment as he continued writing.

Blum’s assignment gives students an outlet to express their gratitude—perfect for the Thanksgiving spirit. From high school teachers to custodial staff, the students’ cards cover a range of school staff, creating ripples of encouragement and love.

“It was awesome to receive a card this year,” said first-year Health Teacher Maryssa Flentye. “It’s a great school activity and I really appreciated getting a surprise in my box!”

Some students even send cards to their former elementary and middle school teachers, or teachers from other schools. Teri Cleveland of Mesquite expressed thanks towards Blum’s meaningful project.

“I love getting cards and letters from old students!” said Cleveland. “The letters make my day and I won’t forget the memories that I made while teaching them.”

In only ten minutes, the students’ brief words of appreciation had a positive impact on those who received the cards. Blum’s assignment is an example of the simplicity of gratitude and happiness. The students’ letters are a physical reminder to Sierra Sands’ educational team that people recognize their efforts.

“A lot of cards stand out to me,” said Blum. “I love that I work with so many dedicated and unselfish people. I always love when my students write to the custodial staff. They do so much for our school and hardly get thanked. It means a lot that we have students who recognize that hard work and I know it means a lot ot our custodians to receive a thank you card.”

She said she was also touched by those who reached out to elementary teachers.

“It’s amazing that after so many years, these soon-to-be high school graduates think of the teachers they had when they were seven and eight and choose to tell them thank you.”