This is a love letter that’s been years in the works. September marked the first time since 1990 that I wasn’t out in the driveway with camera in hand, trying to coax a kid to smile for the requisite “first day of school” photo. No shopping for school clothes and the all-important selection of the new backpack. No more parent–teacher conferences, school concerts or report cards.
I don’t know how many concerts we sat through; how many football, soccer, field hockey and lacrosse games, musicals and plays. I only know that, suddenly, it doesn’t seem like enough.
As our youngest starts college, I feel a bittersweet sense of nostalgia, laced with a tinge of panic. Our kids were Bulldogs for 22 years, and so were we. Now, as we adjust and move on, I want to let our school district know how much I’ve loved being partners in raising our children.
I can’t begin to name all of the terrific teachers whose commitment and passion helped to shape our children’s lives. Let’s face it, you know who you are. Here’s a hint: If you are constantly striving to do more, to be better, always asking yourself, “Am I doing enough?” then you are one of those teachers. You excel in the classroom and provide kids with enriching experiences beyond. You know when to be tough and when to cut a kid a break. You make personal connections with kids – encouraging, questioning, chiding, cheering and dabbing tears.
Our efforts at home were complemented by your thoughtful, diligent work at school, and together we raised intelligent, respectful, compassionate human beings of whom we can be proud. You are often the topic when our dinner table conversation waxes nostalgic. There is plenty of yelling and laughter as the kids tell and retell tales. Many of you have taught several of our kids and they love to compare notes. The stories never get old, and these times are treasured as the kids head out into the world and spend less and less time at home.
I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the teachers who weren’t so terrific. You probably have no clue who you are, but thankfully, your numbers were few. Your lackluster presence managed to serve a useful purpose. While we never acknowledged your shortcomings in front of the kids, your mediocrity made the efforts of your stellar colleagues stand out in sharp relief. On their own, our kids developed a recognition and deep appreciation for those teachers who truly cared and showed it every day.
For eight years, I had the good fortune to work in my kids’ high school. I saw firsthand the hard work that so many people – teachers, aides, secretaries, maintenance people, cafeteria workers, coaches, counselors and so on – put forth every day to help our students. I loved my job; largely because so many of my colleagues loved theirs and did it the best that it could be done. I miss you all, and will always feel that I was part of something special.
I know the going has been really tough lately due to budget cuts and other constraints that make it increasingly harder for you to do the kind of job you wanted to do when you chose this profession. Please keep doing what you do. What you do matters, even when it seems your efforts go unnoticed. My kids noticed, and they are the better for it. I noticed, and I will always be grateful. And we’ll always be Bulldogs.