by Jeni Gearhart
Dear future student,
I get to meet you soon, and I am so excited.
Right now, you might be out with your friends enjoying those last sweet moments of summer. Or maybe you are sitting at home wishing you had started that summer assignment just a few weeks earlier. Maybe you are dreading the new school year because last year was one of your worst. Or maybe you are dreaming of how this year could be (WILL BE) different.
Do you know that I am thinking about those same things? Do you know that I am torn between the sadness of the dwindling days of summer and the joy of the fresh start of a new year?
Do you know that I also groaned when I saw Wal-Mart setting up the school supply aisle in July? Do you know that filling my cart with school supplies still gives me butterflies?
Dear future student, do you know how much I already care for you?
Do you know that I bought extra school supplies to keep in the back of the classroom in case you need them?
Do you know that I keep extra granola bars in my desk for those mornings that you didn’t have breakfast and can’t afford to charge for one at school?
Do you know that I spent hours in used book stores this summer collecting new novels that I hope you will find yourself in?
Do you know that I will cry about you this year?
I will cry when you tell me about how lonely you are at home.
I will cry when you tell me “Yes, he says awful things sometimes, but it doesn’t matter. He loves me”.
I will cry when your grades start dropping because you have started caring more about getting high than showing up to my class.
Do you know that I will listen? Do you know that I care just as much about WHO YOU ARE as I care about how you do in my class?
Dear future student, we will meet very soon. I need you to know what to expect this year:
I’m going to push you, and you are not always going to like it. I’m going to ask you to do hard things in my class. I’m going to challenge you to think differently. I’m going to ask you to think deeply about your world. I’m going to require that you actually know why you believe what you do.
I’m going to require you to do things better. I’m not sorry that you’re not going to like that challenge at first. You are going to wish that I let you turn in a first draft essay and call it a day. You are really going to hate that the phrase “go deeper” is written on every assignment at the beginning of the year. You may hate the word “revision” by the end of the year.
I’m going to require this of you because my job is to help you to grow. I can’t wait for the day those C essays start to morph into the B+ and A’s that I knew you would write.
I’m going to be so proud of you this year.
I’m going to ask a lot of you. I ask a lot of you because I believe that every single person has the capacity for growth and change. I know that you are capable of such beautiful things.
Dear future student,
I need you to know one last thing. It is probably the most important thing that I will ever tell you.
I earnestly hope that I am not the first person to tell you that. If I am, let me say it again: YOU MATTER. YOU MATTER. YOU MATTER.
YOU, dear student, are the reason why I come to my classroom every day. YOU are why I teach.
You might not think you are important. But you are. You matter so much to me.
See you soon!
What do you think?
What do want to tell your students before the first day? What are you excited about for the coming school year? Leave us a comment, Tweet us your thoughts @WVCTE, or connect with us on Facebook!
Jeni Gearhart teaches 10 Honors English and AP English Language at Hedgesville High School in Berkeley County. Originally from Western PA, Jeni loves West Virginia and has taught all four years of her teaching career in the Wild and Wonderful state. She a not a hipster, but adamantly proclaims that she liked coloring books before they were cool. When not wandering the internet for new teaching ideas or grading papers, Jeni likes to drink coffee and devour good books.