Sunday, August 18, 2013

To the Parents of My Former Students

Dear Parents,

You may have a son or daughter starting his/her freshman year of college this fall, or a child who finished 3rd, 4th, or 5th grade last semester adjusting to a different teacher when I left for a new job in public school midyear. You may have sent your son or daughter to the Irving Arts summer art camp where I was the writing instructor, or you may be a homeschooling parent who sent your child to one of my own creative writing camps at home. I just want to tell you something: I've been thinking of you. 

I remember the emails, the questions (endless questions), the conferences, the homework, the candid conversations, and yes, even the petty arguments (let's just call them disagreements) about these silly things called the "reading log" or the "math facts." Ugh. I'm sorry. If I had your child in my class during the early part of my teaching career, I'm sorry for all the homework I sent home in 4th grade. Why didn't I listen to you?!?

But this isn't an apology letter. This is a thank you letter. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to teach your children. Seriously. As much as I whine and stress about the prep time (every year, every class, whether it is for school or for camp, I sing the same whiny song - just ask my husband), I  remember just how much of a privilege it is to be able to see growth happen in front of me, and I take pride in it. I can say, "I helped that kid somehow. That's my work." Always in progress.

That picture you posted on Facebook of your sweet son with his cap, gown, and diploma? I wish him the very best. It is my hope that he accomplishes whatever he wants to do. The heartache you felt when you watched your daughter pack up boxes in her room to move into her dorm? There was a lump in my throat, too. That really amazing poem she wrote that got published? I was a crying mess! And don't even get me started about her commencement speech during her 8th grade graduation.

I am so completely amazed at the accomplishments that just keep coming. Are these really the same 3rd or 4th grade kids? The very same ones who may have picked their noses in class even if they thought nobody was looking (I won't name names, but they know who they are), the ones who freaked out because they stapled their vocabulary foldables on the wrong side of the paper, and the ones who silently recited a prayer called "Please, God, Help Me Remember My Multiplication Facts" before taking their Math Facts tests? Now they're doing really amazing, grown up things like driving, working their part-time jobs while keeping a full time student workload, doing their own laundry (I hope), traveling without their parents, and doing service oriented activities because they want to give back to the community. Those are my kids!!!

The best part about you being their parents is that you've kept in touch with me after all these years. You allowed your kids to keep in touch with me. Heck, you even allowed them to go to my house and babysit my little girl for a fraction of the cost of a regular babysitting gig just so I can have a nice date with my hubby. You continued to share your kids' lives with me. You supported me when I dreamed of publishing my children's books. You tuned in to watch me, excited and thrilled, when my 15 minutes of fame on NBC 5 happened. You came to my book signing with your kids, proud to show me how they've grown up to be the young adults I want my own children to become one day. You came back to show me. I'm grateful for that.You encouraged me. You took the time to tell me that I was doing it right. I needed to build that confidence to be the bold and brave teacher the kids need me to be to keep them engaged.

I want to thank you for sharing those wonderful moments. Remembering them really keeps me going. This is why I've been thinking of you lately. Please think of me, too, as I prepare for this new school year in my new school. I've only just completed one semester, but I really want to get to know the kids the very same way I got to know yours. Remind me to think about the important things. Remind me that I'm doing something that helps.

Mrs. Pulido

Photo by: Sov Chiv. Two of my original 3rd graders now college freshmen.
They just recently returned from a summer trip to Brazil for World Youth Day.
 Left: Jenna H. Right: Alex P. Middle: One of my favorite moms, Justine. 
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