Dear Teacher,

The school year has officially started, and I’d like to kick things off by letting you know exactly what I’d like of you this term. Thanks for reading. Please let me know if you have any questions.

1. The most important thing I need you to know, above all else, is that you’re appreciated.

I know that you do more for my child and all of our children than I’ll ever know. I know you don’t clock in at 8:30 a.m. when the bell rings and clock out at 3 p.m. when they leave for the day. I know you spend your weekends pouring over lesson plans. I know you talk to the children about their lives and kiss boo-boos at recess. I know you stay up late writing songs about volcanoes and looking up craft ideas on Pinterest. I know you whisper confidence into the ears of your students every single day. You pour your life into this job — no, this calling — and for that, I am eternally grateful. Thank you for caring, loving and teaching my children.

2. I need you to know that you’re not alone.

If you need anything from me, just ask. If I can’t provide it myself, I’ll rally other parents. We are your support team. Whether it’s more crayons, paper or glue, I know the harsh reality is that you put your own income into making my child’s education extra special, and I want to pitch in. I know we live in a crazy world where athletes make more than the people shaping young minds. Yes, I’m busy, but I’m not too busy to pick up a pack of erasers or bring in a few empty milk cartons for a lesson plan. You devote your time getting my child excited about learning, and I want to help. Please don’t be afraid or too shy to tell us what you need.

3. I’d like you to know you’re respected.

I promise to never talk to you like you are inferior to me. I promise to never take your time for granted. I promise to prepare my child for the day as much as I can. I’m not perfect. I, like you, get tired, frustrated and — to be honest — scared. Please let me know if my behavior or my child’s behavior ever offends you or makes your job difficult. I know you’re not a servant, you are a teacher — a profession that deserves respect. You’re my equal, and I will treat you that way.

John Steinbeck once said, “I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist and that there are as few as there are any other great artists. Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit.”

I believe this with all of my heart and mind, and as another year begins, I’d like to thank you in advance for the sweat and tears you put into helping prepare another set of tennis-shoe-wearing, fidgety, sometimes-a-little-rambunctious children for a big world.