Written by Cindy Post Senning

This is it—the first week of school. Large schools, small schools, public schools, private schools—they all conjure up a similar image: Rows of desks or groups of students seated at tables and a teacher standing near them, greeting them, introducing them to their new year.

But I like to think of some other people whose work is also just starting:

  • A bus driver picking up a group of students at the bus stop.
  • An aide meeting her special needs student.
  • The school cook laying out the greens for the salad bar.
  • A custodian wiping the last particles of dust from the hall window sill. (She may have been working all summer!)
  • The school nurse stocking her first aid closet.

It takes a whole cadre of people to run a school. Each and every one of them deserves the respect of students, parents, and teachers. Sometimes kids don’t realize the important work done by these folks, but parents can help them by talking about all the work it takes to make the school day successful and encouraging their children to show them appreciation and respect.

What would it be like without these unsung heroes? Imagine the bathrooms at school without the custodian; or the long walk to school without the bus driver. A smile and a greeting from the kids is all it takes to brighten someone’s day. Help your kids be the ones to give that gift as they start out the school year, and say “thanks” yourself when you have the opportunity.

This article originally appeared as a post on Cindy’s parenting blog, The Gift of Good Manners, which is now part of our Etiquette Daily blog.