Friday, September 20, 2013

300 Students Who Changed My Life

Dear Students From My First Year of Teaching*,

There were three hundred of you that year (divided between the seven periods and the two semesters) so I can’t give each and every one of you a shout out, but I haven’t forgotten you.   In fact, I bet I’ve thought a whole lot more about you than you have about me.  At least I hope that is true.  

I hope that somehow the time Nathan pointed out the profuse sweat pouring off me- as I fumbled in vain to figure out the procedure for detentions- has slipped your mind by now...but it probably has not.  

I doubt that you have given a second thought to the time Jose stabbed Alex in the hand with a thumb tack; but I have replayed the scream, the blood and the ensuing chaos a thousand times in my head.  

I may be the only one who remembers that it was Steven who was found guilty of flinging an opened string cheese stick at my head after a prolonged “investigation” by the administration.  Don’t worry Steven I forgive you.  

It will be indelibly marked on my brain that the day I had decided I couldn’t handle this gig Dan handed me the most encouraging (and grammatically incorrect) note I have ever received and I decided to stay.

However, there are some things that I have forgotten and I want to apologize for those. 

I forget what in the world made me so angry that I took two of you in the hallway and allowed my face to turn crimson red as I screamed at you with no respect for your dignity as a fellow human beings.

It truly baffles me how I let you talk me into reading my own terrible short story about a shark attack when we shared our writing that first semester.  It was bad, I know.  

I have only the foggiest notion of who told Jay that I looked like the joker and who exactly kept the whole charade of my criminal alter ego going but I’d like to thank you.  It was you who taught me that to students a teacher is not a human, they are a life form that exists only within the confines of the school walls.  

I will probably never remember or recognize all of the mistakes I made that first year. 

But, there is one thing I hope you always remember.  I cared.  I really did.  I cried over you (in the privacy of the teacher’s bathroom).   I prayed for you, every day before you came into the classroom and when you left.  I thank God for you even now because we made it through that year together and truth be told, I learned more from you than you will ever know.

Thank you,
Mrs. S.

To the readers of this letter who were not my students...What do remember from your 7th grade year or about your 7th grade teacher?  

*(names have been changed to protect the innocent and the guilty)

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