It’s rewarding to bask in the glow of a successful event, like last Thursday’s Teacher Appreciation Night that The Missourian and Neighborhood Reads sponsored. The bookstore wasn’t only brimming with books, it was packed with teachers and librarians anxious to learn more about Newspaper In Education programs The Missourian offers.

What a delight to see so many educators leave the shop with their arms filled with free books.

In preparation, Dawn Kitchell, my Book Buzz buddy and owner of Neighborhood Reads, and I had gathered advance reading copies of books we receive from publishers. In all, there were more than 500 titles for adults and children; the offerings were laid out on tables, along with some snacks and door prizes.

Honey might draw bees, but books intoxicate teachers. We had a consistent crowd coming and going from 5 to 7 p.m., longtime educators and newbies too. They listened as Nancy Sebastian, another friend who works at The Missourian, explained how they could receive copies of The Missourian for their classrooms. Nancy meets people easily, and I took my lead from her. While Nancy talked NIE, I talked Book Buzz.

Twice I heard, “this bookstore is my home away from home,” which I knew would delight Dawn. And later I had conversations that were totally heartwarming. The first was with Robyn Busekrus, a teacher who moved to Washington five years ago. She and her husband, Dr. Matt Busekrus, principal at Clearview Elementary School, were seeking a new town with a strong sense of community in which to raise their two sons, a place to put down roots. The years have flown since they got to town, and they feel they’ve found their forever home.

Robyn teaches second grade at South Point Elementary School and was eager to learn about Book Buzz, a program she’d heard of but didn’t fully understand in regard to submitting reviews and the like. Now she’s on board, and I’m certain you’ll be seeing some of her students’ reviews in The Missourian.

Another upper to the evening was talking books and pulling new titles off the shelves to recommend. I’m all over “Miss Communication,” a funny graphic novel by Jennifer Holm that tackles problems new cellphone users experience. Anna Kemper, of Union, overheard me suggesting it. Anna drives a long way to her job at Jefferson Elementary School in Normandy. But going out of her way to teach seems to be in her blood.

Prior to returning to the U.S. where she graduated from St. Clair High School and Webster University, Anna taught in Korea and Beirut for eight years. I assumed when she got back to the States she’d taken the first job available to her and would be looking for a new position when one opened up closer to home. But that isn’t the case. Anna loves her job and her principal at Jefferson Elementary, where she teaches fourth grade English/language arts and social studies.

Anna’s experiences in the Middle East are proving to be valuable in her classroom. Recently she bid farewell to a little Muslim boy and was able to communicate with him in his language, a shocker for the student who Anna said beamed from ear to ear.

Powerful antidotes like Robyn and Anna’s abounded on Thursday evening, proving once again how blessed our children are to have teachers and librarians who go the extra mile. Educators sacrifice sleep, their feet, lunch at leisure and the freedom of using the bathroom on demand to serve their students. Let’s laud them every chance we get and cherish the memories they’ve gifted us with — unforgettable lessons in life and learning.