April 23, 2020
Dear Class of 2020,
In August of 2015, you entered my life and changed me forever. Together we embarked on the academic journey of your 8th grade year. You entered my room as 8th graders filled with confidence and pizzazz. Neither of us knew how much we would grow and change that year. Nor could we anticipate that for which we were being prepared.
Your 8th grade year. Your middle school Swan Song.
I remember navigating each class period that first day taking in your unique personalities. It was love at first sight.
I knew in those first few weeks of school your mark on my heart would be indelible. We navigated the typical middle school challenges. Missing assignments provided growth opportunities. Family meetings allowed us to address conflict that existed. Resistance to write in complete sentences invited opportunities to practice speech and debate. You needed to process everything verbally. This need encouraged me to find new and innovative ways to provide intentional talking time.
Together, we locked arms and grew. To that point in my career, I had never had a class with your unique personality. You filled my days with joy.
But I won’t lie.
I spent many sleepless nights consumed with worry. Sometimes, in class, I observed your internal battles wondering how to best guide you toward honorable leadership and life long learning. I also often noted your external battles with each other. At times, it broke my heart.
It broke my heart because I knew you had to navigate much of it on your own. You had to embrace the fact that only you could choose to change your choice. You had to embrace the fact that you each shared responsibility for the pain and hurt. I committed my heart to standing by you through thick and thin.
Our family campfire in December ignited change in each of your hearts. You returned in January a new group. Yes, you still battled the challenges of middle school. But you did so, for the most part, together.
That February, I learned that your middle school Swan Song would become my teaching Swan Song. This further sealed our bond and your place in my heart. You were to be my final class. Each of us embarking on a new adventure, a new journey. Together.
I believed in you with all of my heart.
I still do. With all of my heart.
All these years later, I get it. I understand why you faced the challenges you did. I see clearly why you navigated the obstacles you did throughout high school. I also further celebrate your unique design and personality.
When you entered the world, grief gripped the nation as it navigated the aftermath of its first attack on its own soil. Uncertainty defined the mood of the day. As you launch into the world, uncertainty again defines the disposition of not only the country but the world.
You find yourself at a crossroads. Your response to this historic event has the power to mold and shape your future in mighty ways. I repeat.
I. Believe. In. You.
I absolutely expect you to launch into the world poised to change it because you navigated hard things. You endured disappointment. Each challenge you faced, each hurdle you conquered built resilience within you. Resilience you likely thought, in the moment, that you could do without. At times, you likely failed to even recognize it.
I believe it foreshadowed the events that would define your Senior Swan Song. I, for one, find myself honored to have had the privilege of spending a year of my life with you. I, for one, celebrate what I know to be true of you. You, my precious students, are resilient ready. I find myself blessed that our paths intersected when they did.
I would not be who I am without in my life. The future may be riddled with difficulty. But you will rise just as Maya Angelou challenged you to do when we studied her work.
My final assignment to you is this. Go change the world. I’m counting on you. I love you forever. I like for always. As long as I’m living my students you’ll be.