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Lessons Learned: Teacher Appreciation

Sunday School, Midweek, and Vacation Bible School teachers are probably among the most underappreciated volunteers in the church. Unlike Day School teachers, these volunteers work with children only on a weekly basis, or in the case of VBS teachers, only once a year. While some volunteer teachers might receive a small Christmas gift from their regular students, most probably do not.

Now, many congregations do recognize their volunteer teachers with a small token of appreciation at the end of the school year. This might include a public announcement thanking volunteers for their work and sometimes a written card or note thanking the teacher for their service.

Teacher appreciation gifts, including coffee mugs, pins, bookmarks, devotional booklets, and so forth are available from various sources and serve as a go-to resource for congregations to recognize volunteers.

As well-meaning as these gifts are, the reality is most volunteers can only use so many coffee cups, pins, and bookmarks.
Consider some other possible ways to honor your volunteers:

• Host a Sunday morning before-class brunch with coffee, juice, egg casseroles, and pastries.
• Treat teachers to their favorite java by giving them a gift card to their favorite coffee shop.
• Give teachers gift cards to your local Christian bookstore or Concordia Publishing House.
• Have students create thank-you cards to give to teachers. You can even include another gift idea with these cards.
• Flowering plants, especially perennials suited to your climate, can be a continued reminder of your thanks for volunteer teachers.
• Spread the joy—give smaller gifts, thank-you notes, or cards at random times throughout the year.

Short-term ministries, like VBS, require a slightly different approach because these volunteers serve for a brief time.

Consider giving notes or small tokens of thanks throughout the week:

• Give volunteers a bag of pretzels with this note: “Pretzels remind us of arms folded in prayer. We are praying for you today as you serve God’s beloved children!”
• Attach this note to a bottle of water: “Thanks for keeping cool and sharing the refreshing good news that Jesus loves us!”
• Give volunteers a daisy-type flower with a note: “God loves you. We love you. That’s the truth!”
• Paint wooden sheep shapes. Attach a note that says, “Thank you for caring for Jesus’ lambs.”
• Provide a loaf of bread or “bread in a jar.” Attach a note like this one: “Jesus provides daily bread for our body and food for our souls in God’s Word! Thank you for sharing God’s Word with the kids!”
• Provide a pack of sunflower seeds. Attach a note like this one: “Thanks for sowing the seed of God’s Word at VBS today! God will provide an abundant harvest!”
• Provide a snack bag of chocolates with this note, “Sweetest news ever: Jesus forgives! Thanks for sharing this sweet message at VBS!”
• Fill a treat bag with candy hearts. Attach this note: “Thanks for sharing the love of Jesus, our Savior, with our kids.”

Other ideas for additional appreciation gifts are readily available online.

As you wrap up the current Sunday School quarter and look ahead to VBS, I encourage you to make a plan to intentionally recognize your volunteer teachers and leaders.

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