Celebrate teachers and nurses this week – in spite of social distancing

By Brittany Carlson


Whether they are caring for Covid-19 patients in hospitals and tents around the world or educating students through new online mediums, nurses and teachers are working hard to do their jobs in uncharted territory this year.


Communities have unique opportunities to show their appreciation for these everyday heroes this week, with Teacher Appreciation Day on May 5 and Nurse Appreciation Day on May 6.


I’ve asked some of my friends, including teachers and nurses, to help me brainstorm gift ideas for teachers and nurses during this time of social distancing, and here are a few of my favorites:

 *Send an e-gift card.


My nurse friends agree that food is always appreciated on the hospital floor, whether that is catering or gift cards for takeout from local eateries. Prepackaged snacks and coffee are also appreciated.


One nurse friend, Amy, said: “Please don’t forget the night shift who often only get the leftovers from day shift or nothing at all.”


Gift cards are also great ideas for teachers. You can even personalize gift cards by sending them in a box papered with photos of students, using companies like Greetabl.

 *Personalize your thanks.


Send thank-you notes or gifts that share how particular nurses or teachers have impacted you or your kids.


For nurses, you could have the kids write their thanks in chalk on your driveway or your street, especially if you know some of your neighbors are teachers or nurses.


A family I know recently taped thank-you notes to their mailboxes of medical staff in their neighborhood to recognize their service.


For teacher gifts, you could make a video of your kids talking about what they miss about different teachers, or sharing a favorite class project from this year, and email it to them. Alternatively, companies like Shutterfly allow you to upload photos into different kids of photo gifts like mugs, water bottles, clothing, and key rings.


*Involve others.


Creating a thank-you gift with others can sometimes make a bigger impact, and be more fun, than trying to come up with something alone.



A friend of mine and teacher, Shelly, is collecting videos of students in her community working on distance learning or holding up signs thanking specific teachers and staff, to edit into a larger video for all of the teachers at her children’s school.


Another friend, Cassie, said her daughter’s classmates are making a collage of photos to send to their teachers, thanking them through chalk art.


During Teacher Appreciation Week (May 4-8), the school district where I grew up is holding different events each day. On one day, the students are asked to submit a picture of themselves picking a flower for a teacher or a picture of a flower they drew for a teacher. On another day, students will all wear their teachers’ favorite color during their scheduled classroom video chat.


Another way to involve a group is to pool funds for larger gift cards. A Bible study in my area donated gift cards to a hospital from local restaurants that deliver or offer curbside takeout. Another idea might be to raffle off gift cards to teachers every day during Teacher Appreciation Week, like my friend Shelly is doing for her kids’ school.


The teachers and nurses of 2020 are doing things few could imagine only months ago: caring for the sick and teaching students during a pandemic. Although the virus is keeping people apart right now, teachers and nurses are continuing to work on the front lines of education and healthcare, and for that, they deserve our thanks.


Brittany Carlson

Brittany Carlson is a lifelong lover of words and all things chocolate. She is an Army wife and has two sons, Adam (4) and James (2). She has written for several Army community newspapers, including the Stuttgart Citizen (Germany), Fort Leonard Wood Guidon (Missouri) and Fort Belvoir Eagle (Virginia). Brittany holds a Master of Arts in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. 

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