Teachers often don’t do their jobs to receive praise, awards or gifts. They do it because they are passionate about educating children.
But when they are thanked for doing the job that they do, it’s a moment they treasure as much as spending every school day in the classroom.
Daphne Waskom, a kindergarten teacher at Margaret R. Brown Elementary School in Seymour, recently had a former student present her with an unexpected gift.
When Jacob Wieneke was a kindergartner at Seymour-Redding Elementary School in 2003-04, Waskom had him and the other 44 students in her morning and afternoon classes draw pictures to incorporate into a quilt for the school auction.
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Wieneke won the class quilt that night.
Now 18 and a senior at Seymour High School planning to graduate June 5, Wieneke decided to return the quilt to his kindergarten teacher who made an impact on his life.
“She was really nice, and she was caring for all of her students, treating them all the same, so no favorites, equal treatment,” Wieneke said. “The impact she had was that she taught me to always try my hardest and never give up.”
After Wieneke handed a large gift bag to Waskom, she was surprised to see the quilt inside, saying “Wow” several times.
“Oh my goodness. That is unbelievable,” she said, adding that “never in a million years” did she expect to see the quilt again.
A few hours after the presentation, Waskom said she was still in shock and shared her thoughts on Facebook with a picture of her and Wieneke holding up the quilt.
“Words cannot express the emotion that I felt today when I was given a gift by a former student,” she wrote.
Wieneke’s mother, Misti Wieneke, had sent Waskom a text message a week before and said her son had a present for her.
“I was speechless,” Waskom said. “It meant the world to me that Jacob thought enough of me to give the quilt back to me after all these years. I will always treasure the quilt and the memories that went with making it.”
During the 2003-04 school year at Redding, each class did a themed basket for the school auction. Waskom chose to do a class quilt, and she and each of her students decorated a quilt square using fabric markers.
“They had felt hearts, and they could turn their heart into anything they wanted,” Waskom said.
Her mother, Cathy Hackman, incorporated the drawings into making the quilt. At the auction, Misti Wieneke and her husband, Timm Wieneke, gave Jacob some money to bid on the quilt, and he won it.
The family moved three times over the years but kept the quilt in a plastic tote.
“We’ve moved a few times, and every time we pull it out, and we always look at it,” Timm Wieneke said. “One time, we said, ‘You ought to give that back when you graduate. It may be neat.’”
When the family recently was gathering items for Jacob’s graduation, they found the tote with the quilt.
“Since (Waskom’s) mom made it, we decided it would be a good idea to give it back,” Jacob Wieneke said.
Misti Wieneke said she was happy to do that since Waskom taught both of her children, Jacob and Jenna. Waskom was at Redding for 11 years and is in her fifth year at Brown.
“Daphne Waskom is a wonderful person and an amazing teacher. She was a positive influence on both of our children,” Misti Wieneke said. “I’m just happy that we could thank her for all that she means to her students and their parents by giving her back the quilt.”
Friends echoed those thoughts on Waskom’s Facebook post, saying she is “truly loved by students, friends and family” and “a wonderful person and teacher.” Another person said, “That’s how good teachers sometimes get rewarded, and you are one of the most giving teachers out there. Keep up the good work.”
People also posted about Jacob Wieneke’s gesture, saying “that is so sweet,” “what a touching thing to do” and “that is so adorable.”
Waskom said she plans to place the quilt in a glass rack in her home.
“I definitely will treasure it,” she said, adding that she may consider doing the project in class again someday.
After graduation, Jacob Wieneke plans to study law enforcement.
“I want to wish him luck in everything he does,” Waskom said. “I’m sure he’ll be successful. He’s a great kid.”