(BPT) - Whether it was a kindergarten teacher who demonstrated kindness and compassion, a sixth-grade teacher who encouraged you not to give up when things were hard, or a high school teacher who inspired your lifelong love of reading or learning, almost everyone can remember a teacher who made a difference in their life.
A recent survey commissioned by Staples found that three out of four Americans reported having had a favorite teacher, and over 83% said that a teacher had a meaningful impact on their life. These days it's easier than ever for students to stay in touch with their former teachers, thanks to social media, but that hasn't always been the case. According to the survey, less than a quarter of baby boomers have stayed in touch with any of their teachers, while 66% of younger Americans have stayed connected to some of their former teachers.
The survey also found that, since graduating, nearly one-third of respondents said they hadn't thanked an important teacher, but wished they had.
If there's a teacher who made a difference in your life, or the life of your child, here are some ways you can thank them.
1. Express yourself. If you're currently in school, or your child is in school, take a moment to write an email or handwritten note to express your appreciation for what they've done for you or your child. Include enough detail so they really know what they mean to you and your family. Or tell them in person if you can.
2. Enjoy a blast from your past. Look for your teacher on social media sites so you can send them a message to thank them, no matter how many years have gone by. Ask your school's alumni group or reunion committee for help locating favorite teachers.
3. Contribute. Add to a teacher's success by investing in extra school supplies. Many teachers use their own money to enhance the classroom, or to help students who can't afford supplies. Nearly a third of survey respondents reported that a teacher had bought them school supplies when they couldn't afford them, or helped them out with lunch money.
Not sure what to get? Buy a few extra items from your child's supply list, or pick up a gift card so the teacher can select what would be most useful for the classroom. Through Staples Classroom Rewards program, parents can contribute 5% (in the form of Staples rewards) of their back-to-school purchases to a teacher or school of their choice, up to $250. Teachers or schools can earn $5 in rewards just for enrolling in the program.
4. Make your appreciation public. Share your appreciation for a teacher with the world by posting a message, photo or video on Twitter or Instagram. If you upload your post with the tag @StaplesStores and include the hashtags #ThankATeacher and #Sweepstakes, you can enter the teacher's school for a chance to be one of 10 lucky schools that will win $10,000 in Staples gift cards for school supplies.*
Successful vlogger and co-founder of parenting website WhatsUpMoms Elle Walker publicly thanked a teacher who made a big impact on her life. Walker surprised her high school media teacher Robin Hodgin-Frick with a special thank you for helping her get where she is today. A formerly shy and awkward high schooler, Walker was able to break out of her shell with her teacher's encouragement, starting with doing the morning announcements at her school. Now she reaches millions of parents through her blog and YouTube channel.
Take the time to thank the important teachers in your life and the lives of your children this year, as you get ready for going back to school. Visit staples.com/thankateacher to learn about extraordinary teachers who have made a difference, and more ways to show your appreciation.
*NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Void where prohibited. Open to residents of the 50 U.S./D.C., 13 and older. Ends at 11:59PM ET on 9/14/19. Sweepstakes is sponsored by Staples the Office Superstore, LLC. Visit staples.com/thankateacher for details and Official Rules.
Survey methodology: Commissioned by Staples and conducted by OnePoll, 2,000 Americans, aged 18-65 were surveyed about their favorite teacher at school and the impact they had on their later life overall.