Dear Mr. Baker,
Do you ever wonder how many lives you’ve influenced over the years? Or, how many students are who they are because you had a hand in shaping them when it counted? I remember being a student in your fifth grade class and feeling lucky that I could call you my teacher.
Now, over 35 years later, the tables are turned, and I am a fourth grade teacher guiding 17 students to be curious, responsible young citizens. We have just finished a shared reading study of Lynda Mullaly Hunt’s Fish in a Tree and a companion text, Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco. Mr. Daniels and Mr. Falker are teachers who go above and beyond the call of duty, and coincidentally are both male – how strange! Are you familiar with either or both texts? If not, check them out – they are wonderful stories that as teachers, pull at our heartstrings.
To keep the stories alive, students are planning and drafting letters to former teachers thanking them for inspiring their growth as learners and people. I thought it only fitting to share the task and to take the opportunity to reflect on my own formative years and your role in shaping me. You hold a special place in my heart and were ahead of your time on so many levels.
I want my students to know that you valued each person in your path. You were in the business of forming relationships well before it became a catch-phrase.
I want my students to know that you made learning fun. I distinctly remember playing Newcomb – a form of volleyball for the classroom. Is this even a real thing?
I want my students to know that you encouraged us to take risks. I don’t think I’ll ever forget our trek across the frozen Narragansett Bay at ten years old! Can you imagine trying to pull that stunt today? It would never happen.
Teachers have the power to make impressions that will last a lifetime. You are one of those teachers for me.
Thank you, Mr. Baker. May your life continue to be blessed with new students and old memories.
Your former student,
Patty (Flynn) Palmer