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Dear Class of 2011

June 9, 2011

In celebration and honor of our graduating class, this message was sent earlier to my students.  Today, they’ve earned their own space on my blog.

Dear Class of 2011

My sincerest apologies…. unfortunately you will not be getting extra credit for any response to this email. Actually, no response is necessary this time.

Later this evening, your high school career will officially come to a close. Some of you are off to college or some other form of higher education, some of you are off to a job, and some of you are off to figuring out your place in this world. No doubt, many of you have longed for this day ALL YEAR LONG. (This I know, because I heard it near daily). I am sure there are a good number of you, though, for whom anxiety is setting in. You may be sitting there, now, thinking, “Oh no. This is it. Where do I go from here?” For some of you, it feels like it’s all happening too quickly. For others, it is taking forever to get here. Both feelings are normal. And whether you like it or not, it is going to come and go like the last week of summer vacation – fun, but a little too fast, with the onset of September lurking larger each night.

Most adults offer the same rhetoric: These are the best years. Enjoy it while it lasts. Youth is fleeting. The real world awaits. Blah blah blah. All of it is quite true, but for the most part you don’t care. Prom night, Class Night, summer jobs, “will our relationship survive when the two of us go to different colleges,” and so much else is on your plate that rightfully trumps a supposed pep-talk from parents and other seemingly well-intentioned adults.

I plead with you to listen to their regards, though, and file them away somewhere deep in your memory. You will recall them one day and be glad they are there.

I need each and every one of you to know how very proud I am of you at this special time. And, I do mean ALL of you, even if I tried to keep you from roaming the halls so that you would remain in class with a better chance of engagement and learning. 🙂 And, I know you learned. You told me so on your final exams.  And, I cried when I read many of them.  I wish I could post many of the responses, but here are some I would like to share with others:

Most importantly, I learned about myself.  You are honestly the only teacher I had during my entire high school career who has called me smart.  Academics-wise, I’m nothing special.  I have a low B average and no scholarships coming my way.  However, in your class, I felt like I was truly learning and grasping the concepts you were showing me.  You taught me to believe in myself, voice my opinion, and have confidence.  For that I thank you truly.

Thank you for taking the exam seriously. Some of your uncanny insights and discussions about what you learned this year that is relevant to the real world and your future blew me away! Some simple, like

I loved the movie Freedom Writers so much that I told my parents about it and I got it as a Christmas gift.

Some more profound and I will find a way to showcase more of them at a later point.

You may all be at a different place in your achievements, but I know that each and every one of you has grown this year. I’ve watched you mature into young men and women. Thank you for allowing me that privilege because in return, I have learned so very much from you.  I learned why choices for students matter and that students learn so much more than what any test can measure.

You are beginning an exciting new chapter in your life. You have the opportunity now to explore who you are and what you may want to become. This is a time in your life to look both inside yourself and forward to what may be. In whatever you choose I know you will do your best and will continue to grow along the way.

I try always to end the year on a very positive note with seniors. It is such a bittersweet time for me. I’ve grown close to many of you, so it is hard to see you go. Unfortunately, the past two weeks have been not-so-good for me with one tragic, traumatic event after another looming large in my personal life. Because I have been unavailable to some of you in the past two weeks, I thought it important to try one last effort to end your Principles of Democracy class year on a positive note because you are a special class. Life happens. And, I had to deal with it. It doesn’t change how proud I will be as I watch each of you walk up for your diplomas  tonight.

It’s been fun and challenging this year. This is your time. Question everything. Aim high. Stay true to your values and remember to respect others’ values, as well, especially when they are different from yours. Remember:

Character may almost be called the most effective means of persuasion.” ~ Aristotle

I wish you all the love, luck and success this world has to offer and an interesting journey in finding it.

Best wishes!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Cassandra Niglio permalink
    June 10, 2011 9:26 AM

    That was the nicest email I’ve ever received. You are so inspiring and I can’t thank you enough for all that you have done for me. I will for sure miss you but I’m not going too far away so Cassie and I will keep in touch with you. Thanks again for an awesome year, and don’t let this school get you down because you are way above their level!
    Love, Cassandra

  2. Tiffany Mulvehill permalink
    June 11, 2011 7:23 AM

    I would just like to say that I will always appreciate how you are not like other teachers. You speak the truth and you do not care what people think. When I first walked into your class I really didn’t know what to expect. I LOVED coming into Principles of Democracy to see what new and exciting thing I would learn. You have honestly left me with knowledge and character. I now love hearing about politics and what is going on in this world. I’m very sorry to hear about your tragedies and like you said, life happens and it really does. I live with a sickly father and a grandmother who completely is gone due to alzheimers. No matter what, you learn to just move on and pick up the pieces day by day.Thank you very much for being a real person and teacher.

    Tiffany Dolores Mulvehill

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