Sunday, August 2, 2009

Everything Ripples

Dear History Teacher,

Even if you had been teaching for several decades now, instead of just a few years, I would probably still be writing this letter. But the fact that this is only your second year of teaching in the public school system (despite a small handful of years teaching in a charter school; which, let's face it, operates on an entirely different plane than the public school system), well....just further compels me to reach out to you.

See, I've got one of "those" kids. I'm sure you remember them from your own years in high school. The kids who would rather be anywhere but in the classroom, because they either don't get it, or don't want to. (And no, I'm not one of "those" parents, who refuse to believe that their child could be one of the latter; but I do believe that he is PRIMARILY one of the former.) Worse, he's an athlete; which means he HAS to be there whether he wants to or not, inviting the bitter attitudes so many of "those" kids have. You know, the kids who will tune you, as their teacher, completely out.

Last year started just like so many years have before. School was a place he had to be, and classes were something he had to pass, in order to play football and baseball. With the exception of the weight training class, he had zero expectations of getting decent grades. He expected to get just enough of a passing grade to maintain his eligibility, and that was it. And having already been well trained in how teachers tended to just give up on "those" kids, he had resigned himself to a year-long struggle reminding himself that class was necessary.

Then there was you. You, Mr. History Teacher, who dared to do something that no other teacher had for as long as he could remember. You pushed him. Pushed him to participate in ways that incorporated his other interests. Pushed him to take an active interest in the subject being taught; and learned. You pushed him to believe in himself. You believed in him, Mr. History Teacher, when so many teachers before you had given up on him.

And so he started actively participating in class. He would do his history homework before anything else. He put extra effort into your class projects and assignments, which his high grade all year reflected. He even brought his new found interest in history home with him, where it began to take root. Soon, he was watching the History Channel before school and in the evenings. He began to actively search the History Channel for specific events in history; even when those events weren't being discussed in class. He even began recording shows and movies from the History Channel to watch later. His dad was so in awe of his son's heretofore unheard of interest in anything historical that HE began watching the History Channel. First with our son, later by himself. Which led to our YOUNGER son beginning to watch with his dad.

Mr. History Teacher, what you have done is nothing short of amazing. Because you dared to believe in a student that other teachers would have, and had done in the past, given up on; our household has gone from one that watched, almost exclusively, ESPN, Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon to one that actively watches the History Channel several times a week. You have ignited a spark in these three to learn more about their world. You have given my oldest son a newer, stronger belief in himself that will see him push himself to finish high school with the best grades he can, not just to merely finish. You have indirectly pushed my younger son to push harder, sooner; as he wants to be just like his big brother. You have pushed my husband to branch out in finding ways to connect with our boys OFF the football field. And in all of this, you have given me a gift beyond measure. This is the first time in more years than I can remember that my son was eager for the school year to start, so that he could be in your class again.

I'm sure that as an educator, you more often hear how you are possibly failing your students. Especially in the public school system, which is over-crowded and under-funded. So, Mr. History Teacher, I just wanted to make sure you heard how you have made a POSITIVE difference. There is a saying that a pebble tossed into the ocean off the coast of New York causes tidal waves in Australia. You are one heck of a pebble, Mr. History Teacher.

Thank you for being that pebble. Thank you so very much.


The Sports Mama


Tina said...

I hope you have printed this letter (after making appropriate changes of course) and will give this letter to Mr. History Teacher and the principal of the school. This is awesome!

Rockin Austin said...

I agree with Tina, you definitely need to pass this on as the teachers don't hear this enough. I'm so happy that Jock has branched out and has brought Coach and Bug with him. How wonderful!!