Before I left the high school, I was very upfront with my students about what I was experiencing and why I chose to leave them. I cited many reasons that you read in my post from two weeks ago (On life, unmet expectations, and the impact of depression), as well as a several professional needs that finally solidified my decision.
At the end of that lesson, I asked them to choose a teacher who had the most influence on them while they had been at the school and write to the teacher describing that influence and saying thank you.
The students signed their names to the notes, and I delivered them to the teachers’ boxes before I left.
Surprisingly (perhaps not), many of my students wrote to me. I’d like to use the remainder of the post to thank them.
My dear student:
I wish I could respond personally to your note to me. Alas I am now locked out of any district servers that had access to personal student data.
However, you are the reason I feel I was somewhat successful as a teacher. Thursday night, after the semester ended, I went home and waffled for two hours about whether I should read the note you wrote me.
I finally decided to. As I read your kind, heartfelt words and added them to those of your several peers who also wrote me, I could barely contain my emotions and more than once I had to wipe the tears that blurred your words.
I had a difficult time this semester. You did, too. I’m grateful to have recognized that and said and did things that helped you through it. We helped one another. When I struggled to get out of bed, I knew I had to because you needed me there. You you similarly struggled, I’m glad I provided an environment where you wanted to be.
Thank you for sharing your personal experiences with me. Your stories, your scriptures, your vulnerability are things I will treasure and hold to when times get rough in my future.
Because of what you did for me this semester, and because of what you shared with me in your note, I currently have written on my bathroom mirror: “Do my students proud.” You remain a motivation to me as I go forward to conquer the world before me.
I wish you the best. Please stay in touch. You’re one of only 150. I know who you are, and will remember you when you email me. You made a difference to me: you kept my head above the crashing waves of self-doubt and depression.