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Vjack wrote a beautiful post the other day about a high school teacher of his who recently passed away:

I learned that my favorite high school teacher died recently. I regret that I didn’t make more of an effort to keep in touch with him over the years. The last time I saw him was probably when I returned home after my first year of graduate school. That was a lifetime ago. I could have at least written or something. I remember thinking that he probably had so many students over the years that he couldn’t possibly be that interested in me. Of course, I realize now how stupid that was on my part. Now that its too late, I’d rather focus on what make this teacher special.

I lost one of my favorite high school teachers after I had graduated and I remember going through a similar thought process.

So this year, I tried to do something about it. At least for my own students.

I found a bunch of Thank You cards sitting around my place that I had no immediate use for… so I handed them out in class last week. I told the kids to write (nice) notes to one of their favorite teachers — thank them for teaching you, tell them why you enjoyed their class, just make them feel awesome. And when you’re done, don’t sign it. Just keep it anonymous. This wasn’t about sucking up to anyone — it was about telling a teacher that he/she made a real difference to somebody.

(Added benefit: The teachers might be in a good mood as they calculate everyone’s final grades…)

The kids gave me the notes at the end of the period, and I put them in teachers’ mailboxes later in the day.

I felt like Santa.

Just so no one gets the wrong impression, this wasn’t my idea — I stole it from another blogging math teacher. It’s an example of something anyone could’ve done… but no one ever does. I only had enough cards for one of my five classes this time around, but you can bet I’ll have more than enough next year.

Even if you’ve been out of school for a long while, take a few minutes and send an email to one of your old teachers. Tell them what you’re up to, tell them if anything they taught you stayed with you throughout the years, tell them if you liked their class. It’ll mean the world to them.