My friend who is a teacher showed me a very funny poster. It has pictures of two owls. One owl is looking wise and well-tailored in his round glasses and cap. The other owl looks like a deranged lunatic with a torn shirt and frayed feathers.

The caption on the poster says, “Teachers at the beginning of the school year” and “Teachers at the end of the school year.”

As a classroom volunteer, I’ve had the privilege of seeing students up close all year long. I have to say, when spring is in the air, something strange happens to those little bodies.

A new boisterous energy makes them want to run and play and laugh, but does not make them want to learn reading, writing or arithmetic.

This puts teachers in an awkward position, because they are still supposed to teach those subjects for another few months.

It’s easy to get dragged down into the chaos, which for control-freaks like me, often means grasping at anger and negativity instead of focusing on the positives.

My friend Mary got a lovely letter from her daughter’s sixth grade teacher, who is not only seeing the good in this unique time of year, but is also taking the time to comment on it.

“I would like you to know just how much I appreciate having your daughter in my classroom. She always tells me ‘Thank you’ at the end of class with a smile on her face. Her kind words keep me going at the end of a sometimes long day. Her class can be a bit on the excitable side, which means they get a stern talking to quite frequently, but Betsy is such a positive and kind example for her classmates to follow.”

Mary, Betsy’s mom, says, “Betsy’s words at the end of class are sometimes what the teacher needs to push her through the day. The teacher’s words to Betsy, my husband and me were equally important. That letter made us smile and put a little spring in our step. Kind words can go a long way, and pick you up when you just feel like you want to cry.”

When a teacher shows such kindness outside of the classroom by writing a letter like this, you can bet there are some pretty great things happening inside her classroom as well. And it sure is nice to know that some of the students take the time to recognize it and say thank you.

Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107.

Nicole J. Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo. She is a writer, speaker and mother of three kids. Nicole is married to Ohio University’s men’s head basketball coach Saul Phillips. Her column runs every Saturday. You can visit Nicole at