As the second semester of the 2017-18 school year started this week in the Muscogee County School District, perhaps no teachers returned to their classroom from Christmas vacation feeling more appreciated than those who gathered for lunch last week.
River Road Elementary School third-grade teacher Michele Gibson shared the inspiring story in an email to the Ledger-Enquirer. Then she filled in some details with a few more emails answering a curious reporter’s questions.
A woman in the El Carrizo Mexican restaurant on Whittlesey Boulevard in Columbus Park Crossing overheard Gibson’s group of 11 colleagues discussing school-related stuff. She approached their table and asked whether they are teachers.
After the teachers confirmed her guess, the woman told them “how much she admired what we do every day,” recalled Gibson, a 28-year teacher. “She said that we were the real heroes and should be honored. She continued to say that we should be respected and be earning the big salaries since we end up spending our own money in our classrooms anyway.
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“We were all extremely touched by these words and thanked her for making our day. As she returned to her table, we sat there just in shock because none of us had ever experienced anything like this.”
They were about to experience a greater shock.
The woman added a generous gesture to her gracious words a few minutes later, when she again approached the teachers and told them she wanted to pay for their lunches.
“We told her that her kind words had blessed us more than she knew,” Gibson recalled. “She just insisted on buying everyone’s lunch, no matter what we said. She left her food on her table and went to pay for our checks, so the owners wouldn’t think we were skipping out without paying.”
Such a surprise warmed the teachers’ spirits on that frigid day, their first back at work following the winter break.
Gibson wrote, “We all left the restaurant feeling so blessed! Still, several hours later, we are in awe how this stranger blessed us in multiple ways. In today’s world, it is so rare to have a blessing like she provided today, and we just wanted to thank her.”
The L-E sought to honor that thoughtful woman as well, but Gibson said she declined the publicity.
“She would prefer not to get any recognition for this,” Gibson said. “She only wants the Lord to get credit for inspiring her to bless us. She said we could use her first name and last initial if this would be encouraging to others.”
So, Morgan W., whoever and wherever you are, we hope these additional reactions from other teachers in Gibson’s group show you – and others – the power of thanking teachers:
▪ Yulane Wilson, retired from River Road, wrote, “Her words were so inspiring! Even in retirement, it was such a blessing to have your work appreciated in such a tangible manner. Gratitude for a job well done is a great incentive for improvement to each of us.”
▪ Kindergarten teacher Carla Crowder wrote, “Her sweet words and pure kindness made us excited to start the second half of the year. Teaching is a very demanding job. She made us feel appreciated, and that is as good as a pay raise!!”
▪ Second-grade teacher Tamatha Pitts wrote, “Morgan's encouraging words and kind deed reminded me that there are people that have the utmost respect for our craft. In addition, I'm reminded to not lose sight of why I'm in the teaching profession. There is nothing more rewarding than making a positive difference in the lives of my students. This reward drives me to be the best teacher that I can be for my students this year and the years to come.”