Teachers make a difference in kids lives

I was a shy kid.  I still am really.  I’d rather sit in a quiet corner of a restaurant with 3 or 4 people I know than go to a huge party with hundreds of people – those make me hyperventilate.  I’m pretty shy at heart.  When I started preschool at B.Y.U. at the age of 3 it was a super hard for me to make eye contact with my teachers, even though they were perfectly lovely.


By Kindergarten I was fairly comfortable with a handful of close friends at my side, 20 of which remained with me all the way through the 7th grade.  Still, school was tricky.  I’m one of 8 kids and I got lost in the mix a lot, especially when it came to schoolwork.  My parents were just busy, period.  They both worked full-time jobs while managing a houseful of kids, and I never had help with homework.

My parents signed me up for Spanish immersion in the 1st grade and a lot of the kids had been with me in Kindergarten, so at the very least I had kids who made eye contact with me.

school photo

What I didn’t know until a handful of years ago actually, is that I started reading in Spanish just fine but it took until 3rd grade for me to read fluently in English.  In fact Spanish was a far more comfortable language for me to speak, period.  It felt a lot more natural to me, which makes sense to me now as an adult; I was in a classroom with my peers speaking nothing but Spanish all-day every day for 9 months out of the year 1st through 6th grade.

But I still needed a little TLC at school.  At the age of 9 she came to me in the form of an angel named Mrs. Hansen.  Mrs. Hansen, a young college graduate fluent in Spanish led my class on a magical journey that year.  She sat with her arm around me when I had difficulty with something, whispering encouragement in my ear.  A handful of times I arrived at school in tears; without fail Mrs. Hansen scuttled me into the hall with some tissues and a hug and a worried look in her eye, poised to listen and offer help.

She nurtured me, she believed in me, held me up, and completely changed my life.

I corresponded with Mrs. Hansen for years. YEARS.  I sent her a wedding announcement when Viktor and I were married and of course she sent a lovely gift with a note that made me cry.  When I ordered invitations for college graduation she was at the top of my list because when I struggled through college, holding on by the skin of my teeth it was Mrs. Hansen’s voice I heard in my ear telling me I could do it.  She loved me, she believed in me, She knew I could succeed.  She loved me, and never wasted an opportunity to tell me so.


My own children have been lucky enough to have a ‘Mrs. Hansen’ in their lives.  Precocious has already had two, Mrs. H and Mrs. P, both of whom made magic during their short tenures with her.

elementary school

Charming was wrapped in love all through Kindergarten with Mrs. M, knowing every effort would be met with a cheer.

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU to all the educators out there putting your hearts and budgets, and free time on the line for the children you teach.  Teachers make a difference in kids lives.

life is a special occasion

I’m so grateful to be partnering with Hallmark again in 2012 as part of their “Life Is a Special Occasion” campaign.  Hallmark is a delightful company.  As always all stories and photos are my own.

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Hello there! I’m Allison Czarnecki, founder + editor of Petit Elefant, a blog all about style on a budget for every part of your life: style / home / travel / family. I do a lot of how-to beauty + style tutorials, travel posts, easy recipes, home remodel projects, and cool DIY crafts you totally want to try. I’m super happily married (to a hot Polish immigrant) and am the mother of two kids, a daughter and son, all of whom are featured here on the regular. We live in the country but we’re a little bit rock + roll. Welcome!


  1. Michelle :

    I too had teachers who wrapped me in love and with the power of face book I am still in contact with them which I love. It was because of them that I went into the field as well. It’s so nice to hear thank you from a parent, it doesn’t have to be an extravagant thank you. Just the kind words or a note have always touched my heart. It’s amazing to think of how many lives my teachers touched, I hope to do the same!

  2. Maggi :

    I retired last year after 35 years of teaching. Teaching my “babies” felt like a gift to me! I was energized by the optimism, innocence and vulnerabiliy of the children I had the privilege to teach-helping kids along life’s early journey gave me a feeling of satisfaction that has never been equalled. I can’t tell you how much it means to a teacher to hear a simple thank you for doing what we love! Your words a much appreciated!

  3. vanessa :

    Oh my goodness your little girl is looking so very grown up. Sob.

  4. Liz :

    What a wonderful post! With four kids in school, for the last 13 years, I’ve found it easier to contribute to a group gift for each of their classes. However, I have always sent a special thank you note to each of my kids’ teachers. They are totally worth it!

  5. melissa :

    I love this post. My husband is a teacher, I’m going to share this with him! Beautiful!!!

  6. Lillian Hoyt :

    Allison- I just read this post and feel like it could be something I wrote myself. I was one of 8 kids, lost in the mix, both parents worked full time, no help with homework, shy, not a great student. But I always remember Senorita Hansen. I loved her. She actually took time out to help me. I remember her teaching me the times tables. Many times over the years I have thought how I would love to get in touch with her to tell her how much I appreciated her being so nice, but have had no idea how. Do you still have her contact info? I would love to thank her.

    And I love the school photo. That’s the Allison Aagard I remember :)

  7. Natalie :

    She’s getting all grown up! 3rd grade was like yesterday…

  8. Stacia :

    Michael S. also corresponded with Sra. Hansen, but when we had the reunion we didn’t know where to reach her. Please share if you have a good address!