However, there is one gift that a student and her family gave me about 10 years ago that still resonates with me.
It was a plant.
Now, as a male teacher, one might think that I wouldn't get that excited about such a gift. But I really did.
The reason was that this gift was from a student that was troubled, her family was in shambles, and she just needed a really positive role model... one that I think I gave her while she was with us.
During her time in our room, she had the normal jobs that I had posted, but she somehow just didn't fit in with some of the other students... probably because of her situation. I still accepted her like I do all of the children, and tried to be as patient as possible with her, even though it was difficult to do sometimes because of her behaviors.
So when I received at the end of the year, one of the only plants in my tenure as a teacher, I made sure that I showed my appreciation at the moment, because I know that it was probably her grandparents that bought it for her to give to me.
That plant is STILL alive and growing, and every time I water it, I use it as motivation to make sure that I do the same for all of the students that I teach... no matter the situation ... so that they can grow to whatever they want to be.
I haven't seen this particular student in a few years, but I just saw her the other day in the hallway, and she had the biggest smile on her face when she waved and said, "Hi Mr. Putney."
I waved and said "Hi" back to her emphatically... letting her know that I appreciated her, just as much as she appreciated me.
I'm glad she's doing well... and I think of her every single time that I water that plant, and of the awesome responsibility that we have as teachers to help each student grow to their fullest potential.