What a year it has been (You can insert the year that you were in my class). There were tears and laughter (from me). I bet you didn't know that about me did you? I'm certain I didn't learn everything I needed to about you either. I'm sorry for that.
Student, you are a part of me. You think that just because you called me Mrs. Grimes that our relationship stops at the classroom door at 3:00. It doesn't.
My heart smiled each time you slipped up and called me Mama, and my heart laughed when you slipped and called me Grandma. My heart melted when I slipped in the hallway, and you lifted me up off the floor. Yes, you are a part of my heart.
I cried for you when I knew things weren't right at home and knew there was nothing I could do about it although I called the right officials. Some things are just out of my hands. I cried for you when you were sad. Do your remember that time you ran into my arms and cried, "I don't know why my mama doesn't want anything to do with me?" I'll never forget that. My heart broke for you.
My Dearest Student, you are more than you will ever know. You are priceless and full of potential. That's why I pushed you. That's why I repeated, "Failure is NOT an option." I tried to get you to understand that I lay claim to you from the moment your name is on my roster. I want nothing but the best for you. That's why we had that visit from the police when you continued to steal from me. I want to see your name in the paper your successes, not because you made the Police Beat.
I'm not sure what you learned from me. Maybe some reading and writing. Maybe some compassion and integrity. Maybe you learned that you are loved.
No matter how bad you acted, I still loved you, and I still love you. Even you - the fourth grade class of 2000-2001. Whether you are grown and married or whether you walked out my door yesterday on the last day of school, you are a part of my life. I may not always remember your name and face immediately, but it will come back to me. I've enjoyed being reunited with you in the Wal-Mart parking lot, The Dollar Tree, Cracker Barrel, and UrgentCare.
You'll never guess that I learned so much from you. I learned quickly that you are much more than a test score. You are an individual. You have fears and dreams. All you wanted was to get that A, but a C was your best. I loved celebrating that with you. I learned that your home life just sucks sometimes. Yes, your teacher just said sucks. When I dropped you off at your house that day you missed the bus, I was terrified when I saw where you lived. When I met your guardians, I understood why you never wanted to leave for long breaks. When you didn't come to school that day, I was worried about your safety, your health, your life. I learned that I loved you more than I imagined a teacher could love her students.
And while I have your attention, I want to apologize to you. I want to say I'm sorry for the times I lost my patience with you, the times I should have been loving and understanding. The times I raised my voice to you. Sometimes I forgot that you were just a child. Please forgive me for those times. If I ever made you feel less that special, I am sorry. You are an amazing person. I, I am a sinner who makes mistakes and sometimes those mistakes hurt those we love. And I do love you.
So, Dear Student, I hope you know that I ask about you. I check up on you. Whether I check on you through Facebook, acquaintances, or by walking across the building, I care about you and what you are doing. Like a parent, I care about how you turn out. Are you successful? Are you married? Are you making good grades? Are you showing love and kindness to others? Are you trying your best? Because that's all I ever asked you to do anyway.....to try your best. To reach in deep and make the world take notice of how amazingly awesome you truly are. I saw it when you walked in my door on that first day of school. My wish then and now is that you see it each time you look in the mirror.
Now, I don't know if you think of me when you look back on your elementary school days. I don't consider myself a #1 teacher, but I do the best that I can. I hope that when you do think of me, you will remember at least one good thing about me. Here's some of the things I remember about you:
I remember that note you wrote to me when you told me my smile reminded you of your mom and that you think of her when you see me. That's a good thing. I know how much you loved your mama, and I still can't imagine what it was like for you to lose her to cancer at such a young age.
I remember when you walked into my room on the first day of school, and I knew your name. You didn't know how I knew. It was written on your backpack.
I remember when you walked in to my room, and you were taller than me. You a 10 year old. Me a 22 year old. I remember thinking, "What have I gotten myself into???"
I remember you as a third grader when I told you what we would be doing in class, and your face lit up with excitement.
I remember that trip to the Nashville Zoo and how amazed you were to see the many sights along the interstate. It was an eye opener to me that you'd never been out of our hometown.
I remember that day you laughed. It was the first time I heard your laugh all year. I fought back tears.
I remember you thanking me for giving you a C. I reminded you that you earned it and worked really hard for it.
I remember that night at Open House when you sat down and flipped your desk. Oh, my! I thought we were in for a rowdy year! But we had a great one.
I remember that note you wrote to me and thanked me for believing in you, that I was a great teacher because I saw the potential in all of my students.
See, Dear Student? I remember you!
So, wherever you are in your life's journey, please know that I love you. I care about you. I want nothing but the best for you. Why? Because when you walked into my classroom on the first day of school, you became one of my kids.
Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6