This post is Grassroots, meaning a reader posted it directly. If you see an issue with it, contact an editor.
If you’d like to post a Grassroots post, click here!

August 18, 2019

A Letter to my Students

I penned this letter at the end of last school year, and it seems relevant to share now as my former and future students return to school. Return to, in some cases, the only stability they know.

June 2019

Not all students are looking forward to summer break (and their teacher moms, like me, worry at the final wave goodbye).

Last week as the final bell rang and I escorted my 7th grade students out of the building, wishing them well and sending them on their way till Labor Day, a flurry of emotions crossed their young faces (and mine).

These kids have relied on 180 days of breakfasts, lunches, and possibly just as essential as meeting their basic need of food, the safety of a building which housed adults who cared about them even after they left for the day.

As students signed my yearbook, certainly I noticed a lot of “have a nice summer” and “thanks for being a good teacher.”

Those sweet messages are common amongst any yearbook signing in any school. (And were of course appreciated!)

Then I read: “You saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself.” And “Thank you for caring about me as if I was your child.” My. Heart. Sank.

You’re welcome… but why (HOW?!) didn’t someone else show you just how AMAZING you were before I came along?

And, it was my pleasure (truthfully, I love you like my own), but really, my heart aches wondering if you feel loved at home.

These 13-year-old youngsters are such extraordinary mini adults. Their streets, they’re tough. Their city, well, crime is high and many have seen or been impacted by gun violence and gang activity before they turn 10.

I hope they beat the odds. I know they can!

Still, these summer months make my teacher mom heart genuinely ache.

Will you have enough food to eat?

Will you steer clear of street negatives and find a way to enrich yourselves?

Will you be the same sweet and innocent (albeit a bit more streetwise than even me) kiddo who I taught for 180 days this year? Or will you have become another sad statistic?

Although I care less about you knowing how to write the perfect essay than you becoming the great people I know you can be, there were many times this year when our literature echoed your everyday lives.

I think back to Johnny Cade’s words in The Outsiders. A novel we read and LIVED as a class. He tells Ponyboy that he’s seen a lot and learned a lot in his 16 years, but not the kind of stuff you want to see or learn. 16 years wasn’t enough. He wanted more. Like you do. Don’t stop fighting for the more.

Believe in yourself as much as I believe in you. Know you’re loved. You’re appreciated. You matter.

Never allow yourself to be labeled. You are you and that’s exactly what this world needs.

Once you’re assigned a seat in my classroom, you’re forever one of my kids. Like it or not (sorry).

Although I go home to children of my own this summer, you’re never not in my thoughts.

See you in the fall.



Leave a Thoughtful Comment

Read 0 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Kristen Smith (Thiele)  |  Contribution: 1,480