An Open Letter to My PreK and Elementary Students

April 29, 2021

I remember the first day of school like it was yesterday. My heart leaped with excitement at the thought of each of your faces bursting from your cars, eager to make your way to your teachers. 

A new school year. 

Filled with anticipation and hope.

You entered the playground and large turf field unencumbered by the shield guarding your precious face against germs. 

You navigated your way through your classmates and found your way to your teacher. Your teacher waited all summer to embrace you and welcome you. The classroom, like The Giving Tree, prepared herself with new supplies and fresh nameplates ready to meet your every educational need. 

Family members hesitantly waved goodbye and sent you off into the vast unknown. You willingly followed your teacher and navigated your way through a maze of one-way halls. The movement activities secured to the floors caught your attention. You wondered at them curiously. You resisted the urge to hopscotch your way to your new classroom. 

Little did you know I added those activities to the halls to distract you. I desperately sought ways to fill our school with hope and laughter. I wanted to wash away the memories of heartache like the ocean washes away footprints in the sand. 

You left the building Friday, March 13, 2020, without a care in the world. You said goodbye to your teacher eager to enjoy Spring Break. Your teachers silently held the unknown worry in their suitcases because it was far too heavy for yours. 

We protected your hearts and minds from the looming threat of the lockdown like lions protect their cubs. While you skipped merrily to your car in carline, we prepared to navigate the unknown of distant learning. Treasures of you remained in silent classrooms. 

I worried endlessly about your hearts. But your resilience silenced my fear. Your passion for school and love of learning unfettered by the rules of the one-way halls and safety mitigation. Where I saw restriction and stolen innocence, you saw an adventure. In moments that heartbreak began to overtake me, you couldn’t wait to show me your new superhero mask. 

Each day as I watched you talk to your friends through the playground fence at recess, bitterness gripped my heart. Some days, I cried all the way home. 

Until one day. 

One day, when my eyes looked particularly sad as I watched you play, you came alongside me and grabbed my hand. You knew in your heart my suitcase was too heavy that day. You looked up at me and said, “It’s Ok, Mrs. Worley. We can still see each other through the fence.”

At that moment I realized, your childlike faith that things will be ok, moves mountains!  I like you always. As long as I’m living, my students, you’ll be.

You matter.

Love, Mrs. Worley