To my child’s teacher:
I have three children. My oldest is in your kindergarten class, my middle child most likely will be in your class next year, and my youngest is at home with me. The day I sent my daughter on the bus for the first time, my head was filled with fear. I didn’t know what she would hear, see, or feel. It was the first time that she would have been away from me for so long. I am very careful. I don’t let my children go places where I am not, I don’t let them drive with anyone but my husband or I, and I don’t let them go over people’s houses without me. I am careful.
When it was time for her to travel to kindergarten, every level of careful didn’t matter. I was leaving my daughter in the hands of strangers for part of every day. I left her with a stranger when she stepped onto that bus. I left her with a stranger when she walked into that classroom for the first time. I left her with a stranger when she went to library or gym.
Over the course of the last few months, I have volunteered in my child’s classroom. Because of you, I am lucky enough to be a part of my daughter’s week, a part of this facet of her life. You are no longer a stranger. I have loved you as her teacher from the very start. You have taught my daughter how to read, you taught her how to write. You are strict yet kind and caring at the same time. I admire you. You are a beautiful person inside and out.
As I sat in my kitchen and watched the aftermath of the Newtown, CT school shooting on social media for the first time on Friday afternoon, I panicked. My first reaction was to go and scoop up all of my children, hold them close, and never let them go. However, I did not go early to get her at school that day. I let her stay in school. I would have been reacting off of my emotions, not hers. As the day went on, the only thing I was able to do at home was clean the house. I needed something to take my mind off of this horrific turn of events. I sat and felt physical pain for every one of those parents that didn’t know their child’s fate. I put myself in the place of every one of them and I felt pain. I sat and thought about how I would run, run as fast as I could to that school. How I would not be able to do it, not be able to survive if something happened to my precious angel. This was a reality for so many in Connecticut. I thought about how you, her teacher, were probably having the same feelings about your children, but you stayed and took care of mine while you relied on others, probably teachers, to keep them safe as well.
I folded laundry and sobbed and thought of my kindergartner innocently sitting in your classroom, raising her hand to answer a question. For one moment, just one single moment, I felt a sense of calm come over me when I allowed myself to think of you, my daughter’s kindergarten teacher. You would do anything for those children. You have accepted a job not only of teaching, but protecting. I think of the teacher, Victoria Soto, that stood in front of the children in that Sandy Hook classroom and made sure that every one of them lived, having her own life taken instead. I think about the teachers that locked their students in classrooms, talking to them and trying to create a sense of peace in the middle of a war zone. You would do that.
Every day, I put absolute faith and trust into you, one woman, who holds in her hands the safety of my daughter, my most prized possession in this world. So, thank you to a woman who probably started off her education thinking that her one role would be to teach our children to the best of her ability, but in this present world has had to accept the role of protector as well. You have done that. Thank you to a woman that has allowed me to be a part of my child’s education so that I can get to know that I have every reason to put my faith in you by watching you work, for allowing her to be a friend, that person for my daughter in the middle of the day, and a stranger no longer. Thank you to a woman who has a huge weight on her shoulders in this day and age as she walks into the classroom to take care of a class full of 5 and 6-year-olds that depend on her every single second, whether it is physically or emotionally. Thank you to that woman, to you. I am thankful that every day, my daughter walks into your classroom.
From the bottom of my heart, I admire you for all that you do,
*** Please take a moment on December 17th to thank a teacher. They are the ones that protect our children when we are not there to do it ourselves. Whether it is a note telling them how you feel or even time spent volunteering, thank them, let them know how much what they do every single day means.
Visit http://julieverse.com/thank-a-teacher-day-december-17-2012 for more information about how you can participate in this campaign to make sure all of our teachers feel appreciated for what they do each and every day.