Students show their gratitude


Kelly Simon points to her Gratitude message.- Caitlin McKeand

Caitlin McKeand, Staff Reporter

A pleasant surprise delivered to teachers, an anonymous message from students telling their teachers how much they appreciate them.

Last August, a survey was sent out to students asking them to take a minute to write a few words about a teacher who inspired, impacted or motivated them in some way. With the responses, Dean of Instruction Christa Martin created the Vandegrift Gratitude Project. Every 2 to 3 weeks she makes cards to give to teachers to remind them that the impact and inspire students everyday.

“Nothing is more rewarding and affirming than a student saying, ‘You made a difference because…,’” Martin said. “Teachers all over the campus were recognized by students and even parents responded.”

Martin will be sending out the survey again at the end of the year to get more comments from students.

“Because it is anonymous, the gratitude shared will hopefully just create a smile and a good feeling,” Martin said. “A reinforcing feeling that the teacher is making a difference to students in the classroom.”

Despite being anonymous, students can choose to sign their name at the end of their message, which some did.

“It always makes me feel good to read messages from students letting me know they enjoyed my class and that I helped them learn and sometimes enjoy math,” Calculus teacher Dana Raitt said. “It is rewarding for me to know that some students appreciate what I do and that I have positively impacted a student’s learning in some way.”

Raitt admits that she’s curious as to who wrote her messages.

“But I don’t need to know in order to appreciate a student taking the time to send a nice message,” Raitt said. “It is kind of them to recognize me in this format and I think the fact that it is anonymous encourages more kids to participate.”

French teacher Kelly Simon encourages Martin and students to continue the project as she said teachers often feel underappreciated and receiving the note makes her smile for days.

“I love that so many students took the time to comment about a teacher that stood out to them,” Martin said. “The comments were so thoughtful, kind and real. People have become so rushed and busy that kind words and gestures are sometimes left behind. I love reading them and even more, delivering them.