On my 40th birthday in the sweltering heat, I cleaned out a classroom that I had help design, taught in, and cherished for over 8 years. The janitor brought by the giant cart for me so I could toss out all those handouts I thought I needed to save, work samples I wanted to show again, and portfolios that I’d kept because my students didn’t seem to want them. In the last drawer of the cabinet I found a Hallmark envelope with my name on it. It was a letter from my friend Logan. The date read June 11th, 1999.
Wow. What serendipity. I vaguely remembered stashing this letter there, knowing that someday, when I needed it, I would find it again. The card was written to me on my last day of teaching high school, my non-continuing contract did not continue, my 30th birthday was in days, and I was about to embark on a new journey…..teaching Junior High. I was so scared about my future back then. Would I have colleagues who loved me and supported me like my group at WHS? We called ourselves the “Young Guns.” Would the kids like me and appreciate my teaching style? Would my new school feel like home?
So there I was, all alone in my now empty classroom, and my tears mixed with the sweat that was beginning to roll down my face. 10 years later I had found the letter, I was embarking on a new journey…teaching grades 6-10 at an International School. A lot was different this time. I was married, I had a 2 year old daughter, and I was excited to leave on my own terms on a new adventure in Germany. But I had the same worries as before. Would I make friends? Would I like my colleagues? Would the kids like me? Would my crazy sense of humor be funny to my new international audience? Would I be good enough?
I read the letter through a few times. It thanked me for our friendship. It expressed his appreciation for my collegiality. It reminded me why I teach, why I’m good at it, and why I will be able to connect with kids wherever I go. It was just what I needed to hear. Not only was it great to look back on my life at 30, it was an affirmation that in spite of all that had changed, I was still a good friend, I was a good colleague, and I was an even better teacher.
It is four years later, and I am cleaning out the hall closet in preparation for moving again. And here it is….Logan’s letter. I placed it here knowing that when I moved again, I would find it. I can confirm that all that Logan wrote is still true today. In my new school I made friends, great friends. I have the most inspiring group of teachers that surround me, support me, collaborate with me. I have amazing students that push me harder than I have ever been pushed before. They make me a better teacher everyday.
But I’m leaving it all for a new place, a better place….I hope. I hope? I know. Thanks Logan for your letter. It was just what I needed when I needed it.