One wintry day years ago, I visited my son's kindergarten class. When I arrived, his teacher, Mrs. Clipp, was not in the room.
That was unusual.
"Don't worry," the assistant teacher told me. "She's coming!"
The assistant busily got the kids in a semicircle, asked them to sit quietly and began explaining what a graph was.
Suddenly, there was a knock on the classroom door.
Behind the door was a person so bundled up in toboggans and mittens an overcoat and scarf that only a set of eyes could be seen.
"It's Mrs. Clipp!" shouted one of the kids.
I'll never forget the lesson that followed. I grinned all the way through it. The assistant teacher helped the kids count as Mrs. Clipp peeled off layers of mittens and scarves and toboggans and winter jackets. A tousled teacher emerged to ask the kids to add their own wardrobes to the mix of numbers.
How many boys and girls had worn mittens to school that day? How many had worn a scarf?
In the end, the numbers went on a colorful graph at the head of the room, and we all learned what most kids wore to school (a jacket) and what they might not have worn so often (a scarf).
Ask my son what he remembers from elementary, middle and high school, and he may tell you about the time he and his classmates made goo. Or homemade ice cream. Or rockets (some of which flew). Or kites (some of which didn't).
His fifth-grade class studied the American legal system, and students acted out courtroom scenes. Some were witnesses, others prosecuting or defending attorneys, and one got to be the accused.
In sixth grade, his history teacher divided students into groups, assigned each a country and had the Cold War alliances and challenges re-emerge in a debate at the United Nations.
I remember visiting classrooms with flow charts for plotlines, colorful calendars and topsy-turvy art.
Now my son is in college. I don't often get to experience the inventive and amazing ways teachers teach our children. So since school is just around the corner, I would like to give our teachers a little gift in return for all they do for our kids.
Send me your stories.
Let's give back what teachers most enjoy receiving: The knowledge that they've made a difference and their efforts are prized and remembered.
During these hot summer days, tell me about special things teachers have done for your kids, and for you.
Before school starts, we'll let them know how appreciated they are. It can be our classroom project.