Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Note To A Teacher

The homeschool classes I teach began the 2006-2007 term this week. As usual, I'll be teaching a variety of courses, for both high school and for middle school. I know that I don't always succeed as a teacher and that I'm not everyone's "cup of tea." Students are flawed; so are teachers. There are no perfect students, no perfect parents, and no perfect teachers!

This summer, I received via snail mail a thank-you letter from a student who had left my classes at the end of the previous term so as to complete his senior courses elsewhere--either at home or in a different set of classes. Like all college-bound seniors in their last year of high school, this student applied to a number of universities and as is often the case with my seniors, asked me to write some letters of recommendation. Because he was a superior student in all respects (academics, character, spirituality), writing the letters was easy, and I could end each one with "I recommend this student without reservation." His letter to me is as follows, in its entirety:
I wanted to write this note to you to express my sincere thanks to you for both the immense help you've been in this college process and the way you've prepared me for the future through your classes.

Thanks (in large part) to the letters you wrote and the forms you filled out, I received both a nomination to West Point and a full-ride scholarship to George Mason.

As I leave to go to West Point and serve our country, I just wanted to express to you my thanks for all your help (during this process) and all the hard work you put into your classes--the classes that prepared me for college.

Thanks again.

P.S. Feel free to correct my spelling, grammar, or punctuation, if you wish. I won't rewrite it, though. :)
If you know a teacher to thank, take time to do so, even if you were in that teacher's class years ago. Such letters matter, and it's never too late to send one!


At 9/13/2006 9:19 AM, Blogger Romeocat said...

Not at all a surprising letter, AOW. I remember your passion and your love of teaching when you came to visit.

Thanks so much for helping to keep and eye on CHC while I'm on vacation, and please extend our thanks and prayers to this young man as he serves our country. I pray the Lord blesses him and guides him to always live with honor and integrity.

-- Kat

At 9/13/2006 9:23 AM, Blogger Old Soldier said...

AOW, I have pretty much agreed with all that I read here and in comments you leave elsewhere, but I must take exception to one comment here today. I take exception with: " perfect teachers!" There was (and is) one Perfect Teacher. He no longer walks physically among us, but He resides in each and everyone's heart who has called upon Him.

I know I have taken your comment out of context and made it useful to my purpose. (That's almost 'liberal' of me, isn't it?) I just wanted to remind folks that there is One who can and does matter when everything is going wrong.

God bless,

At 9/13/2006 9:36 AM, Blogger American Crusader said...

I know reading that must have felt good. You're obviously a dedicated teacher who takes her responsibilities seriously.

At 9/13/2006 9:45 AM, Blogger The Merry Widow said...

It is good to know that you have made a difference, that not only affects thes young man's life, but the countries for the better!
Good on you and him!


At 9/13/2006 10:22 AM, Blogger nanc said...

oh great - me - crying at work - to what are you people trying to reduce me?

i've puddled up so much this week my sinuses are jammed.

you're a great person and teacher, aow.

and soldier - so right.

At 9/13/2006 3:24 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Old Soldier,
I take exception with: " perfect teachers!" There was (and is) one Perfect Teacher. He no longer walks physically among us, but He resides in each and everyone's heart who has called upon Him.

That's exactly why I used the plural forms. ;)

There I go again, serving as the grammar police!

oh great - me - crying at work...

This one got to you, huh?

When I got the letter, I couldn't read it aloud to my husband without my voice breaking.

I remember your passion and your love of teaching when you came to visit.

It shows all the time, I guess.

I'll try to post again at CHC; I had no success this morning. Typepad was running so slowly.

A teacher can never receive too many thank-you notes.

I'm very pleased that this student was accepted at West Point. He is a fine young man and an excellent candidate for officers' training.

At 9/13/2006 4:58 PM, Blogger George Mason said...

This letter certifies how much you have contributed to America's future. Well done!

At 9/13/2006 8:52 PM, Blogger David Schantz said...

Great post and some proof that your one of the better teachers. From time to time I run into my 8th grade teacher and thank him in person. The Best I ever had, but I didn't think so when I had to spend the day in HIS class room. I think I have mentioned him to you before. He was a USMC DI for 21 years. He went back to school after he retired. I had him the first year he taught school. He would get and hold your attention in the class room.

God Bless America, God Save The Republic.

At 9/13/2006 9:50 PM, Blogger Gayle said...

I know that letter made you feel wonderful, AOW! It's great to have the people you have helped show appreciation. So many youngsters don't do that anymore.

I can't thank any of my teachers as they are all dead. But I only had one that I truly admired and respected and cried for days when she moved. She was my third grade teacher. I moved 32 times during my school years. It's rather hard to get attached or to remember them all.

At 9/13/2006 9:52 PM, Blogger Gayle said...

I should say I assume they are all dead... I have no way of knowing for sure. If any are still living they would be pretty old.

At 9/14/2006 12:49 AM, Blogger MissingLink said...

It must've been one of these moments, which make all your efforts and works worthwhile.

I am sure you fully deserved it.

At 9/14/2006 8:20 AM, Blogger Old Soldier said...

"That's exactly why I used the plural forms."

Not to put too fine a point on it...

Wouldn't the one perfect Teacher be included in the plurality, thus making the statement incorrect? Just asking.

Beyond my foolishness, I am proud for you and especially proud for your student. Too many teachers today produce pass-ons (to the next grade). To be the recipient of an obviously heartfelt message like that should be humbling. Humbling because of the gift given you and humbling because you used that gift to His purpose. God bless you, AOW.

At 9/14/2006 8:28 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Old Soldier,
Wouldn't the one perfect Teacher be included in the plurality, thus making the statement incorrect? Just asking.

Possibly, but not with a lower-case t, IMO.

Too many teachers today produce pass-ons (to the next grade).

I'm not in that number. Just ask any of my students. LOL.

In fact, I lost my job with the county system because I wouldn't give a passing grade to the star player on the football team. He cut the midterm exam and received a zero for that, thereby pulling his average even further into already low numbers.

To be the recipient of an obviously heartfelt message like that should be humbling.

It is! I didn't post the letter to brag but rather to encourage others to thank a teacher. The school year has just begun, and such letters give encouragement to teachers who are fulfilling their calling. It can be tough to hold the line on standards--so many pressures to ease up, but that easing up doesn't do the students any favor.

To other commenters:
Off to class in a few minutes. I'll reply later.

At 9/14/2006 10:37 AM, Blogger Brooke said...

Wow, AOW... West Point? That must make you swell inside!

What a gracious young man!

I saw a pretty cool bumper sticker about a month ago:

If you can read this, thank a teacher. If it's in English, thank a soldier.

At 9/14/2006 12:21 PM, Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

What a great letter! As a non-classroom teacher, I can attest that little shows of appreciation like that can rejuvenate your spirits as a teacher.

At 9/14/2006 12:35 PM, Blogger beakerkin said...


Guess who had a cameo in todays Beakerambo saga?

At 9/14/2006 1:53 PM, Blogger American Crusader said...

Off subject, but I saw your post at obob's and was curious if you had seen this at MEMRI:
"In a September 10, 2006 appearance on an Iranian Channel 2 TV special, Muhammad Al-Asi, who is affiliated with the Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought, accused the U.S. government of carrying out the September 11 attacks." .

At 9/14/2006 2:20 PM, Anonymous Seth said...

AOW --

There is no finer tribute a teacher can expect than acclaim and thanks from a student.

I'm old enough that all my teachers were "old school", and dedicated to teaching as you are. Of course, back then public education wasn't the same political dumbjohn it is today.

Whenever I'm in New York, schedule permitting I catch up on what my favorite teachers are up to -- some, though they could have retired several years ago, are still teaching in the same schools. I'm not alone in this. A guy I went to school with who since became a basketball star and later a manager does the same thing.

Those were teachers who left good and permanent impressions and to this day I recall them fondly.

At 9/14/2006 8:41 PM, Blogger Obob said...

as another teacher, it is an ongoing war. We win battles and lose them. Which makes a major victory like the West Pont nod of your past student more valuable. I shake me head when they fail and can't stop smiling when I see them rise above the rest. I love the business.

At 9/15/2006 8:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had one teacher back in my undergraduate days that I'll never forget. He used to walk into the classroom, put his briefcase down, walk to the podium and pound his fist down, simultaneously pointing to the most inattentive looking midshipman in the room, and in a booming, authoritative voice pose a thought provoking question like "Why did Hitler invade Germany?" or "What did Freud think of Bismarck?" Ever since those days, I've never stopped asking similar questions of myself. His voice still echoes inside my head like a thunderclap and turns my thoughts upon themselves in an attempt to discover the answers.

I e-mailed him recently and thanked him for being my source of inspiration all these years. He was very gracious in his reply, offered to have lunch with me, but I'm certain he didn't remember me. But he was the best teacher I ever had. Thank you Dr. Jacques Szaluta, wherever you are! Psychohistorian extraordinaire.

*Hand, Salute!*

At 9/15/2006 11:29 AM, Blogger Elmer's Brother said...

It's difficult to get into the service academies, not an easy process nor do they take every tom, duck, and harry. Which makes it all the more impressive that he was selected for West Point. Way Cool!

At 9/15/2006 11:32 AM, Blogger WomanHonorThyself said...

They are lucky to have you AOW. I taught for many years as well...ah I know the feeling!

At 9/15/2006 1:41 PM, Blogger cube said...

Good for him and good for you!

At 9/15/2006 5:04 PM, Blogger eyesallaround said...

That's great AOW! I think I told you before that my Grade 12 Social Studies teacher was one of the biggest influences in my life. He said "You may not go to college now, but you will in the future." He was right. Teachers, nurses, cops and firemen.... noble professions...

At 9/19/2006 6:41 PM, Blogger Raven said...

How did I miss THIS??? Guess working all these hours causes me to miss SO MUCH!!

It makes it all worthwhile we get letters like this huh? In my work we rarely get feedback after a patient has been discharged. Once in a while though it happens. It makes our day when we see and hear from patients who at one time were in a coma, who we questioned whether they would live another day...

Awesome and inspiring AOW!!

At 9/19/2006 9:41 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Thanks to all who stopped by here. I myself am late getting to my own site. The school year has begun!


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