Are “Core” Teachers Appreciated More than Art Teachers?

With the end of the year upon us, I wanted to share an observation I’ve made over the years. At the end of the school year, the classroom teachers seem to carry away bags of teacher appreciation gifts, scrapbooks, and thoughtful cards from their students, and rightfully so. However for me, I was lucky to come away with a homemade card. No one MEANS to forget the art teacher, but somewhere in the shuffle, we can easily be forgotten.

The last week of school my PTO put on a “Queen for the Day” program. Each teacher was given a break of 30 minutes, a glass of sparkling juice and a crown, while the students made them a surprise appreciation book. Guess where they came to make the book during the ‘break’ time? The art room! I ended up leading the entire art session. One of the sweet parents finally realized they had completely forgotten the specials teachers, and rushed out to gather up some spare juice and crowns and profusely apologized.

Do I really care about getting a break of 30 minutes and a crown? No, not at all. But feeling appreciated and remembered is quite important.

Recently, we asked our Facebook fans what appreciation they’ve received this school year. Take a look at the responses yourself, it’s quite interesting!


Even though we all want to feel appreciated, in the end perhaps the best gift in the world is just a hug, a drawing or even a broken crayon, don’t you agree?

How were you appreciated this school year?

…or were you forgotten?

Jessica Balsley

Jessica Balsley is the Founder and President at AOE. She is passionate about helping art teachers enhance their lives and careers through relevant professional development.


  • Ingrid

    I’m in the same boat, bu occasionally get end-of-year or Christmas gifts. I love the cards that the kids give me, and saved all of the congratulations cards spontaneously made when I got married :)

    I was so charmed by the choice of Christmas candies of one student that I actually took a picture, it was fun to have real thought behind them!!

  • Art_GottaLoveIt

    Jessica, for all of the incredible work – teaching, lesson planning, professional development and blogging that you do to help and encourage your fellow art educators – I am sad that you didn’t receive tons of affection and thanks. You certainly have mine.

    I think elementary parents are more apt to give…I am blessed and humbled to have received homemade cookies, handmade and handwritten cards, gifts, flowers and gift cards. The best gifts are when parents and students take the time to express, in writing or verbally, their gratitude for having received meaningful experiences in art. It is an affirmation of sorts, shoring you up against the ‘bad’ days and making it all worthwhile.

  • Laura

    I have noticed that, but I don’t mind…

    Last week, totally out of the blue, when third grade came in, seven girls lined up, beaming, with this big Manila envelope they had decorated with stickers and glitter…and inside of it were poems and drawings for me!!!!!!!! They even created little coupons I could redeem for extra help around the room. I almost cried, it was so sweet. I don’t know what on earth I did to deserve it, but I was walking n air the rest of the week. I would rather have homemade things than something their mothers picked out at Marshall’s, any day.

    And for the curious, here is one of the poems… Art is my favorite class, there’s so much to prove, your pictures are to realistic, they look like they move. We thank you for your sacrifice to give us art class we love your sense of fashion it has a lot of sass. We hope your like our crafts for you they were sort of hard. From Emily Emma Collette Olivia Gillian Lily and Aleli, and this is the end of our card.

  • Scuppers the Sailor Dog

    Gifts are few and far between. Acknowledgements as well. I am grateful for the drawings, cards, and little gifts (“pretty rocks” and dandelions, birthday cookie or cupcake) students give me. I am grateful for the students who want to help me in the art room. And I am grateful for the students who share tidbits of their lives and interests with me. It is a very special gift – it is an honor.

    We aren’t funded to teach our classes. ($200/yr to teach seven grades and special needs? That is Not funding.) Art teachers don’t get field trip money from PTA because we are not “regular” teachers. My students have won the top awards at our yearly district art fair but I never hear a word of praise from my many principals, co-workers, parents, or students. Nothing is ever said to me. We are unnoticed and unsung.

    If you become ill or injured, however, and can’t work, you instantly become noticed and are now An Inconvenience. You could be gone weeks and no one notices that you are absent. No one calls to make sure you are okay. If a sub is there to take over, then all is well and nothing else matters. Over the years, I’m become accustomed to this but still, it does hurt. (I’ve been home alone, recovering from surgery, and one of my schools hasn’t let out a peep to me since I left – unless reading my district emails to catch staff bulletins counts. No get well card, nothing. One of my other schools called four weeks into my present home stay.) Other specialists get praised and lauded, art specialists are invisible.

    So, yes, I feel very much forgotten.

  • Katy

    I teach a high school Fine Arts Survey class. This year, students we required to take a full-credit, instead of a 1/2 credit to graduate. I ended up with several upper-class men enrolled, who took the class as entering freshman and were less than thrilled to be taking the class again. My challenge was a familiar one, to make the class interesting and fun, but at the same time meet the state requirements for the course. For a lot the class, I could tell that my students were interested and engaged. However this was my first time teaching this course, in a brand new school and state. At the end of the first semester, I received this letter from one of my seniors.

  • RWS

    This week two 4th graders gave me a sign, in markers on 3 sheets of copy paper taped together that said “Thank you Mrs. Steling! We love art!” I immediately hung it up on my magnetic board. I didn’t notice until my snarky 7th graders pointed out that they had spelled my name wrong. I love that sign!

    The best gift I’ve gotten from students is being asked over and over if i’m going to be their art teacher again next year (they’ve had a number of different people over the past few years.) My answer is, “I hope so!” This has been a first year teaching art experience, and I’m constantly surprised and delighted at the squishy cupcakes and hand drawn cards that are offered.


    This year students gave me a lot. One little girl who I really connect with gave me a mother’s day cookie. Her mom is just a sweet heart too and they went out and got a special cookie that said Happy Mother’s Day. It really was special, because we are mom’s away from mom’s. I’ll do the same for my daughter’s teachers now.

    It is really important to remember that ALL teachers are your child’s most important person when you are away. They are the one’s who will be not only helping them learn but protecting them in many situations.

  • Kimberly

    Some of the best and most memorable gifts that I have gotten from my students were hugs and drawings. The classroom teachers, throughout the year, pass on moments when their class expressed how much they enjoy art class. Even the fact that I have to practically push them out the door at the end of each class is a gift of sorts…I know they enjoy their art time.

  • Laurie

    That is so sad when you are left out! I never got anything when I was in public school, except for some sweet notes. But now I’m in a small Christian school and I get SO much presents it’s unbelievable! This past Christmas I got 32 gifts! I’m talking gift cards from $10-$100. (I got two of the $100. ones!) from Starbucks, Target, Wal-Mart, Hastings bookstore, Bath & Body, Hobby Lobby, movie theater, & various local restaurants (from $25.-$40.) PLUS I got all kinds of homemade goodies and ornaments, jewelry, cologne, art books, a t-shirt from Artsonia with the student’s artwork printed on it, flowers in beautiful pots, etc. I feel so blessed by these parents and kids, they love art and they are so generous!

    • Cathy

      I teach in a private school as well and have received more in the past then in the last 2 years, not that I’m keeping tabs. Gifts are mostly giftcards or candy, some candles. The best gift ever, honestly, was our 6th grade teacher having her homeroom class make a card with little messages of appreciation inside. Also, our Spanish teacher suggested her students to make cards for any of their teachers so long as it was in Spanish…I got a few from my artsy students. It was really nice to have a “core” teacher make ya feel like you are important too. Those are the gifts that mean the most. :)

  • Miss B

    I have received quite a few “unique” gifts from students. (One brought me 2 pieces of wood that he painted on, another student colored a cardboard piece for me with Miss B written on it :).) These gifts mean more than anything to me and I’m happy to secure a place in my room for doodles and other odd art pieces gifted.

    What kind of upset me though, was during teacher’s appreciation week, the special teachers were left out of many appreciation gifts from the PTO. There were days that emails would be sent out thanking the PTO for baked goods, plants, etc., and many of those gifts the special teachers never received. I can understand a parent not sending in gifts for every teacher there student has, but the PTO baking 4 cupcakes for each teacher and not including the special teachers was a bit upsetting. Another time I only received a gift because I was at the copy machine with the music teacher when some PTO members were in the office passing out gifts and we both got a plant quickly thrust into our hands.

  • A.Smith

    I don’t mind not getting a gift, but I was very disturbed by some grade level teachers complaining that their gift card was only $50 this year or “all they got” was such and such. I have never received money or gifts as nice as what they receive and the sad thing was, I was standing right there and it didn’t even occur to them that I may have received a card or two and that’s it.