George Lucas Educational Foundation

Thank-You Letters to Teachers

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Student thanking teacher with note

Sometimes we forget the impact that we have as teachers. Schools are busy places, and teachers are busy people, so it’s not surprising that sometimes we miss out on chances to stop and reflect upon the influence that we wield over the young people in our care. Often, it’s the little conversations, the easily-forgotten asides, the friendly smile or brief compliment that mean the most to young people – and while we might forget them by the time it comes to write the next report or plan the next lesson, those words can remain with a young person for a very long time, shaping their personality and their thoughts.

So, thank you to all the teachers out there. To show you how powerful you are, as individuals and as a profession, here are a collection of ‘Thank-You’ letters written by students thanking the teacher who, in his or her inimitable way, changed their lives for the better.

Dear Sir,

I hated you when I first met you. I hated the fact that you made me stand up straight. I hated the way you made me wear my uniform right. I hated the way you made me speak correctly. Most of all, I hated the way that you wouldn’t accept my work unless it was the best I could do. And the best always seemed more effort than I was willing to put in.

We had lots of arguments, at the start. I remember being kept in at lunch a lot. And despite my yelling and threats – even tears once or twice – I remember you never lost your temper. You were always patient with me. You always took the time to listen to me, whenever I wanted to be heard.

I look back upon that time as so important in the development of the person that I am today. You taught me discipline. You taught me dignity. Much more than English, which was what you were supposedly teaching me, you taught me that I could achieve more than what I or other people thought that I was capable of. I could be a success, instead of a clown.

For that lesson, I owe you so much.

Thank you.
A student (Year 11).

To my teacher:

If I had not had you as my teacher in Year 7, my life would be incredibly different. I’m not saying it would be bad – but you opened my eyes to what I could be, what I could do, in a way that I’ve never thought possible. You took a kid from Penrith and made him want to see the world and beyond.

I still remember one lesson where you told us about your hopes for your future when you were our age. I think you were meant to be talking about science, but it changed, and kind of became a life study. You told us about your regrets, and your successes, and for some reason, it all resonated with me, and I started to realize that anything really is possible.

You have changed my whole aspect on my learning, I wouldn't be where I am today without you. Your encouragement and persistence in my junior years has taught me that I am who I am, and to get to the top, it’s all down to me. I am capable, but it will take hard work and lots of dedication.

Thank you,
Nick (Graduated).

Dear Friend:

An Inspirer. An Empower. An Engager. These three characteristics are just a short sample of the many you demonstrate with all of your students, including me, every single day.

Too often we progress through the ‘ropes of life,’ and do not invest the time to express our gratitude and authentic value for the support you so eagerly share for our growth, as not only students, but also as global citizens of society.

You make me feel authentically supported when you say, “Please let me know how I can be helpful” and genuinely mean it. Also, the excitement you express to co-learn with me rather than teach me, makes me feel like a partner in my learning experience, when it is so easy to feel like ‘a sponge that can only absorb.’ I know you have so much to share, but I love how you also openly articulate how much I have to share as well and how much you learn by engaging with me!

As an educator, your title can ensure a role of heightening my knowledge in academics. However, you see me not as one of the many students you have, but instead you value me for my uniqueness and strengths. You promote an environment where I feel like I am able to not only share my contribution, but also know it is actually considered and appreciated.

Thank you for being genuine. Thank you for seeing me as a partner in learning and sharing. Thank you for being you. Thank you for being one of the few great teachers out there. May you inspire others to achieve the greatness you have.

With gratitude,
Clement Coulston (Graduated)


Thank you for your patience. Thank you for your time. Thank you for helping me with my homework. Thank you for setting me homework. Thank you for staying behind to help me, even when I know there are lots of other places you’d rather be. Thank you for keeping me company on camp when no one else was there. Thank you for not embarrassing me in front of my friends. Thank you for explaining things until I understand. Thank you for making me do my best. Thank you for being my teacher.

Sarah (Year 8)

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Samer Rabadi's picture
Samer Rabadi
Online Community Engagement Manager

There's a really touching tribute to Kevin McKellar, the Headteacher at Hendon School, on his passing. It's written by a colleague and mentee and includes a thank you note from one of his former students. It's clear that this is a man who touched man lives:

Here's a quote: For Kevin, anything was possible. 'Go for it!' was his response to any idea or inspiration - 'then come back and show me IMPACT!' The school was haven to guinea pigs, dogs, small children and, for a memorable summer, an enormous circus tent. He believed we all need constant challenge and inspiration, and had a way of picking up on restlessness and creating new and exciting opportunities and cajoling and pestering and spurring us on to success.

And then this: As a former colleague, mentee and friend of Kevin, I'll pledge this to him: I won't be complacent or defeatist. I'll stand up for my moral values with conviction. I won't be afraid to be different or fallible or admit when I'm wrong. I'll always ask how I, and those around me, can be even better. I'll continue to celebrate diversity and difference and eccentricity. I'll put people first and continue to work to fulfil the potential you saw in me. And I'll continue to try to make you proud.

Samer Rabadi's picture
Samer Rabadi
Online Community Engagement Manager

This is sweet. A student hops onto Reddit to thank teachers everywhere:

Here's what s/he says: "I get it now!" "That makes sense!" "You make it so much easier!""You're the best!" "You're my favorite teacher!" You all are why we go somewhere on life. You do a hard job, probably one of THE hardest, but you all are the reason many of us like school. Weird, right? A student likes school? Well, maybe not all, but there are so many students that look forward to YOUR class. I have a favorite teacher. She used to be my Spanish teacher and I visit her every morning and off hour I have, I'm very close to her and would do anything for her as if she were my sister. I know you all are stressed and tired, but I want you to know you are loved. Please know that and have a good day. Keep on teaching!

Samer Rabadi's picture
Samer Rabadi
Online Community Engagement Manager

From our Facebook page...

Paula: "I usually give a cute survey to my elementary students at the year's end, asking about how I performed that year. One question was "What can your teacher do to improve?'" One student answered, "Nothing. She already improves everything." I felt most appreciated. In fact, that comment kept me going for several years! LOL!"

Sue Long's picture

Although I've had my share of letters, my thank you was slightly different, but every bit as valuable to me. The first year as the principal of a 6-12 alternative school for at risk students, I rushed to get out of my office as kids were leaving for Christmas break. Hugs were handed out to everyone. Evidently one got out the door before I arrived for soon I saw him rushing back. A very-well liked high school senior hustled up the steps and exclaimed, "I heard you were handing out hugs. May I have mine?" To this day, I tear up over it!

Charlene Pugh's picture

I am thankful for my 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Eleanor Cooper, at Clifford School. She taught us to think critically, be problem solvers, and love learning. Thank you, Mrs. Cooper, My goal is to be that special teacher to my students.

ktouellette's picture

Here's mine that I blogged:

Mark Fortune's picture

This is a long shot, I'm not a teacher, and as of this time I'm not even a big success. heck the teacher I want to thank might not be a teacher anymore. However, In spite of how lack luster my life has been so far without this one particular man it would be a million times worse right now. Mr. A If you by chance see this. Thankyou for not being afraid to slap me that day so many years ago when another student. made me loose my temper to the point of wanting nothing more then to kill him. To this day I dislike schools and have trouble believing teachers actually care but. I shall forever, remain grateful to you for not being afraid to do that when I lost all control of myself. As temperamental as I was back then I was told to always respect teachers. and on a courteous level I do. but, there's no question you and you alone stopped my life from taking the worst turn possible. Thank you sir. from the bottom of my heart.

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