Dawn Meacock points out a multi-note thank you she wrote to teachers for Teacher and Staff Appreciation Week Friday, May 10, 2019. The Thunder Mountain High School sophomore wrote the note to teachers who helped her through a rough patch last year. (Ben Hohenstatt | Juneau Empire)

Dawn Meacock points out a multi-note thank you she wrote to teachers for Teacher and Staff Appreciation Week Friday, May 10, 2019. The Thunder Mountain High School sophomore wrote the note to teachers who helped her through a rough patch last year. (Ben Hohenstatt | Juneau Empire)

Find out what made one thank-you note stand out from dozens of others

Student lets teachers know they’re appreciated

Even among dozens of other fluorescent note cards, Dawn Meacock’s thank-you letter stood out.

Thunder Mountain High School offered students an opportunity to write thank-you notes to educators for Teacher and Staff Appreciation Week and then post the colorful cards on a Wall of Thanks. Meacock’s contribution was a multi-page booklet among a bright sea of simple sentences.

“I went through a lot last year,” said Meacock, a sophomore at TMHS. “They really helped me keep my vision focused on school and the future. They really helped me stay on track. They were there when I needed to talk — especially Mr. Watts.”

Meacock said last year she had problems at home and mental wellness concerns, and a group of educators including Jay Watts, Lance Northcutt, Renee Drummond, Chris Won, Brian Van Kirk and Kathleen Galau were an important support network.

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“It really helped when they didn’t see me as anybody different,” Meacock said. “I struggled a lot last year, and it was very comforting.”

The thank-you notes were far from the only appreciative gesture shown to teachers and staff at the high school in the Mendenhall Valley.

Among other acts of gratitude, parents and students took turns preparing treats for educators each day, principal Dan Larson held down the fort in the office so faculty could enjoy a business lunch and on Friday the band played while students ate and staff were treated to root beer floats.

Larson said the annual weeklong celebration of teachers and staff is a way to make sure no one is overlooked because a hectic high school schedule can make observing every national staff-specific appreciation day close to impossible.

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“We celebrate all staff in May for a week,” Larson said. “This week is for everybody.”

Teachers old and new said the gestures are appreciated, especially when just about everyone in the building is feeling the effects of a busy school year.

“It’s been really good,” said Luke Gunkel, a first-year English teacher. “I really feel appreciated, and I guess that’s the point.”

Chris Peterson, a special education teacher, gets another scoop of ice cream added to his root beer float during Teacher Appreciation Week on Friday, May 10, 2019. (Ben Hohenstatt | Juneau Empire)

Chris Peterson, a special education teacher, gets another scoop of ice cream added to his root beer float during Teacher Appreciation Week on Friday, May 10, 2019. (Ben Hohenstatt | Juneau Empire)

Chris Peterson, a retiring special education teacher who has been at TMHS for 10 years and in the district for 20, said it’s definitely a welcome gesture.

“It’s fantastic,” Peterson said. “We appreciate it. We really do.”


• Contact reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.


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