A letter to my students
To the editor:
For the past six weeks, you have been reading columns written by some of my students (Editor’s note: You can find the final installment in the series on Page D1 of today’s edition). I asked them to write about what they know, and what they delivered was a series of skillfully crafted stories.
They wrote about being part of the marching band, adventures in hunting, life with siblings, losing a pet, being a student-athlete and a love of photography.
I have known, for years, of the depth and breadth of the talents these students possess. My position is unique. I have the great fortune to be able to work with these students from the time they become “my students” until the day they graduate. By that time, I will have worked with most of them for at least seven years and will have gotten to know them very well.
I first proposed the idea of writing columns back in October of this school year. When I spoke to my kids about what the expectations would be, I was surprised at some of the responses I received.
“I’m not a good writer.”
“I’m nervous about people reading my work.”
“I don’t have anything to say that people would want to read.”
Can you believe it? I couldn’t! I have always had such an abundance of confidence in these kids that it never really occurred to me that they might be lacking in that area themselves.
Over the past few months, it has become clear that sometimes my students’ own assessments of their capabilities compared to the actual levels of their skills are often incongruent. It was following their apprehensive replies and some very wide eyes that the goal of this assignment shifted. It became more about them realizing how much they have to offer and having the confidence to share those products than it was about the practice in writing.
Each of these students has risen to the challenge, beautifully I might add, and as a result, our community has had the opportunity to get to know a piece of each of them.
To my students: I always knew you could write. At first, I just wanted you to have a platform from which to share those skills, but it turned into something much more important. My hope is that some day this experience will serve as a reminder that there was a time when you thought you couldn’t but you did.
Maybe you’ll think, “I won’t get into that college, or, I won’t get that job, or, there’s no way I’ll figure this out.” But maybe you will. Maybe you will because even though school and work and life can be intimidating and scary, and sometimes things don’t turn out as wonderfully as your columns have, you will try anyway. That’s what I want for my amazing, intelligent, funny, gritty, creative, always-thinking, never-quitting kids.
Oh and know this, it can be scary, even as an adult, to write a column that other people might read, but if the reason behind it is important enough, you can do it (wink).
Mifflin County School District