Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Forever Ten

One of the things I have always had my students do at the end of the school year is write me a letter. Over the years, the content of the letters has changed, but one thing has always remained constant: their value. You will find each class set of letters in their own binder. Each letter has a photo attached to it. It may take me a while to remember your name if I run into you, but once I have it, a flood of memories surface. I can tell you what type of student you were in my classroom. Little things that you did. Your likes and dislikes.

At the end of every year, I pull all the binders out and let my current students read them. They like to see what school was like for the students that came before.

Then it is their turn to write me a letter. And their binder becomes a part of who I am just like all the others.

Recently, though, the letters in these binders have become invaluable.

I have had to pull a couple.

Copy them.

And do the unimaginable.

Send the originals to parents.

Because they lost their child.

Not one set but two.

Two former students in just as many months.

Tonight I read both letters. The one you wrote me in third and fourth grade because I was fortunate to loop with your class. That second year of having your group was unbelievable. There was a closeness in our classroom community that I haven't had since. We all knew each other and were like family. We started fourth grade where we left off in third. And I have memories of you.

I remember you standing in the doorway of my corner classroom with its red trim excited for another year of camp.

I remember you not reading all of your book report book, doing the project, then feeling so guilty about it you couldn't keep it in any longer. You finally told me and apologized.

I remember your quiet demeanor and old soul, wise beyond your years.

I remember your beautiful handwriting and was proud that I taught you to write like that.

But most importantly, when I think of you, I remember your ten year old self because that is the age you were when I last taught you.

Rest in peace sweet Tiffany. May you find comfort in your new home. Your words will always be with me. Always.