The Thank You Project!

Group of Children

The Thank You Project!

Image by McBeth via Flickr

Hey gang –

I have the honor of being the keynote speaker at the Excellence in Education event on November 18. It’s a celebration sponsored by the Iowa State Education Association to honor teachers who have done amazing things for their students and their schools.

The overarching goal: To say THANK YOU to some amazing teachers and honor them for their efforts!

So… I’m excited.

As I was thinking about the event… I got an idea.

What if we all had the chance to say THANK YOU to that special teacher that really made an impact in OUR lives?

What if you had the chance to say thank you to that teacher who invested in you… that really saw you… that really encouraged you… that really pushed you?

What if?

So… here’s what we’re going to do.

I’m going to make this a fill in the blank question. I’m going to post it here and on Facebook.

You can respond to it by clicking comments.

Let’s just see how many teachers we can thank.

Then… I may just read some of them as I’m speaking to the group on the 18th.

Granted… your favorite teacher might not be in the audience… but we’ll try to honor as many favorites as we can! Plus, I’m guessing that by hearing about some of the other teachers who have made an impact on people’s lives… it will inspire these incredible teachers to continue to do the amazing jobs that they are doing!

Who’s with me?

Okay… so here we go.

Fill in the blanks…

Dear Mr./Mrs./Miss _____________, thank you for _____________________. I’ll never forget it!

I know that many of my teachers played a HUGE role in helping me to think and dream bigger… and for that… I’m wildly grateful!

I’m betting you feel the same way about some of YOUR teachers!

So… let’s take a second and say thank you. It will be fun to see where this goes!

Keep dreaming BIG!


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  • mitchamatthews
    Posted at 09:05h, 09 November Reply

    I’ll start it off…

    Dear Mr. Mullen, thanks for pulling me aside to challenge me to enter that speech contest even though my first speech in your class tanked! You changed my life by having that 5 minute conversation! I’m grateful!


  • Crystal O'Connor
    Posted at 10:24h, 09 November Reply

    Dear Sr. Mary Celine – Thank you for your incessant and tireless efforts to teach me my multiplication tables and a plethora of other math equations. I know I was your most frustrating project and your biggest success story. Although your techniques were at times humiliating and nerve wracking…(I didn’t say knuckle wracking)…Your lessons spread far wider than math computation skills.
    1. You proved consistency and repetition ultimately lead to success….which resulted in my habit of great persistence and determination….which come in handy in many areas of life.
    2. At times you did encourage my clownish behavior without realizing it (my coping mechanism for feeling humiliated) …which may have been annoying to you in your 4th grade classroom…but cultivated my sense of humor in the area of failing…. better described as “failing forward.”
    3. You inspired fortitude, courage and constancy of purpose. Is there any greater qualities than this I ask? I think not.

    One of the most amazing characteristics of my 4th grade teacher Sr. Marie Celine was that she was over 70 years old at the time she was teaching me in the 4th grade! This is highly uncommon in this day and age. Not to mention, she never missed a day of work that entire year. I think she was amazing and she deserves a mention. I am sure I am not the only student from St. Thomas Elementary in Decatur, Illinois that she positively touched in so many ways.
    Crystal O’Connor

  • Angela Garrison
    Posted at 10:00h, 09 November Reply

    Dear Mr. and Mrs. Lamson,
    Thank you for showing me the wonders of live theatre. It has led to a profound confidence in myself and I have been able to pass that on to my children. Not to mention the fact that this confidence led me to start a theatre program in my children’s elementary school so that I too can pass these wonders on to other children in my community.

  • mitchamatthews
    Posted at 10:05h, 09 November Reply

    Thanks Angie! That’s awesome!

  • Aaron Foster
    Posted at 10:54h, 09 November Reply

    Dear Mr. Pugh,

    Thank you for allowing us to play Monopoly often in 6th grade. For it was the skills we learned in Monopoly that have helped me out the most in life such as saving money, real estate deals, negotiating, mental toughness, etc. I can’t say that I’ve ever had to use much other knowledge in many of the worthless things taught in our schools today, but I use the lifeskills you taught us in your non-traditional teaching style each and every single day of my life. Thank you.

    Aaron Foster
    Buzz Media

  • mitchamatthews
    Posted at 11:03h, 09 November Reply

    Yeah… Ok… this is TOTALLY addictive!

    I just thought of another one…

    Thanks YOU Mrs. H. for not sending me to the office for getting in a fight with the class bully. More importantly… thanks for saying “good job” quietly in my ear when you passed by my desk!

  • Trish Kiesau Wise
    Posted at 12:25h, 09 November Reply

    Dear Mr. Stanzcak (NCCHS),

    Thank you for being my biggest supporter during freshman year. My back surgery and a brand new school made me one scared little girl. Your Spanish class will always hold a place near and dear to my heart. I may have failed the course but left with so much more than what was in the syllabus: faith, confidence, chutzpah, inner strength and more self confidence than I could have ever gotten from others. You are thought of often and spoken of many times.

    Thank you for being YOU and encouraging me to be ME, successes and faults included. Gracias Senor Loco Cabeza, gracias! Mucho amor para usted…..

  • John Johnson
    Posted at 13:32h, 09 November Reply

    Thank You Mr. Long, 11th grade U.S. History teacher and Golf Coach. Was the first teacher that said it like it was! No text book BS, the real facts! He said ” You can be anything you want to be in America you just need a CLEAR picture of what that is”

  • Trish Kiesau Wise
    Posted at 12:34h, 09 November Reply

    Very addictive Mitch and thank you for this platform!!

    Dear Mrs. Peete,

    7th grade sucks for girls and yet you made it a priority for all of us girls in your class to respect each other, be kind to one another and maybe even *shock* like each other. You welcomed me into your home and your life outside of school when I needed someone there for me. Teachers like you are so few and far between now. Thank you for showing me how women should treat themselves and others. Thank you Mrs. Peete.

  • mitchamatthews
    Posted at 12:38h, 09 November Reply

    Hooray for these freakishly cool teachers and kudos to all of you for thanking them!

    Trish… you’re right! It’s soooooo addictive! But that’s a good thing… right?

    Keep ’em coming! This is great!

  • Sunni Swarbrick
    Posted at 13:22h, 09 November Reply

    Dear Connie Hansen,
    Thank You for giving me the opportunity to start the tradition of the UNI Polar Bare Run, Walk, or Roll charity run. Thank you for believing in the idea/success of the event!

    You are truly an inspiring individual through which I have learned that nothing is ever impossible, and to always follow your dreams!

    Sunni Swarbrick

    Dear Mrs. Lewis,

    Thank you for airplane ride and the awesome reading races in fourth grade!

    Sunni Swarbrick

    Dear Mrs. Jensen,

    Thank you for being a great support system in high school. You have taught me so much academically, and personally. Thank you for always pushing me, encouraging me, and teaching me how important it is to NEVER GIVE UP.

    I am truly blessed to have you in my life!

    Sunni Swarbrick

  • John Morgan
    Posted at 13:25h, 09 November Reply

    Dear Mr. Thompson, thank you for telling me my attitude would get me nowhere in life. Proving you wrong has been very motivating. It sounds like a joke, but you saying that lit a fire in me that to this day is still burning. I’ll never forget.

  • Marcia Moore
    Posted at 18:03h, 09 November Reply

    Thank you to Mrs. Esther Johnson, my first grade teacher (who passed away long ago). She played her upright piano at the beginning of every school day as our class sang, “The B-I-B-L-E, yes that the book for me…” Can you imagine? Obviously, I was in first grade LONG ago!

    And, thank you also, Mrs. Johnson, for spanking Buzz N. for misbehaving in class one day, then immediately putting him on your lap and hug-hug-hugging him to pieces. You struck just the right balance. I’m 56 years old and I can see your classroom as plain as day.

    Today, I would like to thank Professor Amy Walsh-Mackrell of Simpson College, who thinks I’m way smarter in American Literature than I do. Being a 56-year-old college sophomore is not easy, but Amy has made it bearable…and fun!

    God bless teachers, especially the ones who aren’t afraid to make a difference in a child’s (or adult’s) life.

  • Tami Petersen Trewet
    Posted at 09:45h, 10 November Reply

    Dear Mark and Becky Christy,
    Thank you for recognizing nurturing my singing and acting talents in high school (all those years ago)…and for showing me a world beyond my own back yard. But mostly, thank you for pushing me beyond my comfort zone into a place of growth as a performer and a person. Your confidence in me and your support changed me forever and I am a better person today because you cared.
    Much love,

  • Corey Sebetka
    Posted at 21:06h, 11 November Reply

    Dear Mrs. Moeller,
    Thank you for teaching me algebra in chemistry and teaching me that I wasn’t stupid, but there is more than one way to learn the same information. Thank you for writing 2 sets of notes for every class every day so we ALL could learn. Thank you for standing up to students who cheated even when it wasn’t the easy thing to do. Thank you for teaching me about the kind of teacher I wanted to be.

  • Corey Sebetka
    Posted at 21:13h, 11 November Reply

    Dear Mr. Nesbitt–Thank you for the hours of speech and play practice. I use those skills daily.

    Dear Mr. Chaimberlain–Thank you for allowing us to debate wrong answers on tests for half credit. I understand now that through those discussions we were learning and searching for the truth even if it was the long way around.

  • mitchamatthews
    Posted at 07:59h, 12 November Reply

    Dear Mr. Sternberg – Thanks for the awesome applied business class. I can remember a light bulb going on in me when we did the mock product launch competition. That was when I started to realize I might just dig entrepreneurship! You opened up a door to possibilities for me. So yeah… THANK YOU! I won’t forget it!

  • Christine Meggison
    Posted at 14:11h, 16 November Reply

    Mrs. Hefner (Adel-DeSoto Elementary): Thank you for being a safe person. During a season of life when the seas of relationships with family and friends were rocky, you were my life preserver. I’m forever grateful.

    Sincerely, Christine (York) Meggison

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