An Open Letter to My Graduating 2013 Seniors

{My seniors’ last day was today and as they left my classroom for the last time, I handed them this letter.

In reality, I signed each one in my “signature” pink pen!}

Well this has been one hell of a year, hasn’t it?? From first day nervousness (on my part!) to trudging through the winter to fighting off senioritis with all of our might, we have been warriors this year!

I want to start off by saying that it has been an absolute blessing to be your teacher this year. I know what you’re thinking…Blessing?!? Really?? With all the trouble we gave you?? Well, first of all, you didn’t give me that much trouble. Most days, you left my class and I wondered, Did I do my job today? Did what I said make any sense? Are they going to remember this? Very few days (but yes, there were some!) left me glad to see you go.

I love being a teacher. I live for the moments when you guys “get it;” when you start doing something I’ve corrected you on time and time again, when a piece of writing inspires you, when you’re able to express your thoughts and feelings through writing, when you want to read the sequel to a book we read in class…those are the moments that pull me out of bed and into our classroom day after day. Oh! And college acceptance letters and job offers…man, those things make my heart GLOW! Knowing that you will use what I and countless other teachers have taught you over the past 13 years to expand your knowledge and experience life to the fullest reminds me that my job has an amazing purpose.

I am confident that each and every one of you will leave this school a strong, independent and functional member of society. I am proud to call you each my friend in this city. A friend is someone that pushes you to be the best version of yourself that you can be. Each of you has taught me something and pushed me to be the best person and teacher possible. I know that I have much room to grow as a teacher, and I feel blessed that the tables were turned and you got to teach me something each and everyday.

If you take anything from our time together, remember this: Persevere. The metaphors, punctuation, grammar…all that stuff can be Googled and relearned when you need it. But what you will need to remember everyday of your life is to persevere. There WILL BE times when it feels like the world is against you and nothing can go right. People will let you down. Money will be tight. Life will be hard and you will question if there really is a god. But hold on and don’t give up. Ever. It gets better. Maybe not right away, but it will. You can trust me on this because I speak from experience. I know that we all have different life experiences and I don’t want to compare my struggles to yours, but here they are. I graduated from OU with a degree in commercial photography that was of no use to me. By the time I was a junior in college, I wanted to be an English teacher; not a photographer. Once I finally got on track to make that happen, I was blessed with a teaching job. In October 2010, my very first year teaching, my mom died from cancer. I was 25; way too young to lose a parent whom I loved very much. She will never see me get married, hold her grandbabies, or watch me become a wonderful teacher. The next school year, I was staff reduced and sent to teach at East High School. This was the most stressful year of my life. The kids were rough and the administration wasn’t very supportive. I questioned my dream of being a teacher. Was this really what I wanted? Was I even good at teaching? At the end of that year, a student got frustrated with me because I wrote him up twice in one day for skipping my class and causing a disturbance in the hallway. He retaliated by throwing and hitting me in the face with a plastic bottle. It was a tough year. But, also during that school year, in November 2011, I met and fell in love with my boyfriend at the time. Let’s call him Buford. I was blissfully happy. The crap at school didn’t matter as long as I had him to go home to. Out of the blue, in February 2012, he broke up with me, leaving me in pieces that would take over a year to put back together. So now, not only did my job suck, but I was brokenhearted as well. Try inspiring the youth of America when absolutely nothing inspires you…but with the help of amazing friends, I pulled myself together and began to move on. And then my dad became deathly ill with colon complications. He had spent so much time taking care of my mom that he let his own health deteriorate. Had he not gotten to the hospital when he did, he would have died because his body was poisoning itself. Thank God the doctors caught it and he slowly, but surely, recovered (but not before having a foot of his colon removed!). Well then I was blessed with a job at Columbus Downtown High School. Buford and I were giving our relationship another try. Dad was healthy. Life was good. And then, in December 2012, I found out my Uncle Art (who is not technically related to me, but acted as a grandfather my entire life) had pancreatic cancer. No cancer is good, but pancreatic cancer is pretty much a death sentence. And death comes quickly. Over winter break, Buford and I broke it off again, for good. Christmas sucked. But I pulled myself together and kept going. Things were steadily good for a while…Until May 6th, 2013. Uncle Art lost his battle with cancer. He was a preacher. He was supposed to marry my future husband and me, baptize our kids…he was supposed to be there. I am still recovering from that last one. Slowly but surely, I am pulling myself together and moving on because I am about to be blessed yet again by a promising class of graduating seniors. Life has been tough, but you know what’s been good? I earned my masters degree this year! I ran a half marathon (13.1 miles)! I found a job I love! I have wonderful friends and family that support me in all of my endeavors. I am blessed.

So if you learn nothing else from me, learn this: It gets better. Persevere. And tell me about it. Come back and show me the amazing person you have become. I am so infinitely proud to have played just a tiny part in molding you into the person you are becoming and I truly thank you for that.

Sincerely,

Miss A

ps…okay, you can learn 3 things from me:

Persevere, your/you’re, and there/their/they’re.

 

And one last time, Be good, stay out of trouble and make good decisions.

I will try to do the same.

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