In just a few days this household will experience the end of it's first full year of school. Kindergarten will be in the history books. 9 short months ago I cried all the way home after dropping an eager, curious, nervous 5 year old at the sidewalk of her future. (Pictured to the left) Since then I have been on that sidewalk every morning. Sometimes with a 5 year old who couldn't wait to get inside and sometimes with one I had to bribe to go inside. Many emotions and discussion occured on that sidewalk and then I would send her inside to you.
I am well aware that mine is not the only child who comes to you with all of those fears, excitements, insecurities, stories, tired mornings, and endless questions about endless things. I cannot fathom or imagine the amount of stimulus you experience or the level of attention that is expected of you from each child who, quite frankly, believes you to be the smartest person on the planet. I am, however, certain that you managed that classroom in a way that my daughter's little heart felt safe. When she was concerned about her performance or keeping up, you instilled confidence. When her work did not measure up, you helped her believe that she did. When she felt left out by her classmates, she always expressed feeling accepted by you. On countless occasions she spoke of you with the kind of affection that anybody would love to be attached to. And I know that there are 20 others in her class who feel the same sense of safety, security, affirmation, and affection from you and towards you. That's what makes you gifted beyond words at what you do. In fact every member of the staff I have encountered at this school is exceptional. You recognize the part you play in the foundation of their education, their self-esteem, and their lives and you do not take that part for granted. You give to each one as if they were the only one. I know that there are classrooms that do not contain such teachers. I know that there are parents who are experiencing a different outcome than we are. I do not know you well but I see in my child the results of the choices you made long before you ever met her. You made a choice to be an educator who loved her job and her students no matter the obstacles, challenges, or shortcoming that attempt to keep you from doing so.
You aren't just teaching, you are building lives. You aren't just concerned about curriculum, you are focused on hearts. Your goal isn't getting them through your class successfully, it's getting them through life successfully. You do not measure your worth by your paycheck but instead the deposits you make in those little hearts. You don't care about them liking you as much as you care about them liking themselves and each other. You are a gift and a treasure, valuable beyond your own comprehension and possibly your own comfort. Not because you work in the classroom, but because of who you choose to be in spite of the classroom. You deserve higher pay, higher praise, and more help but you excel anyway.
Because of you kids learn confidence, conflict resolution, and how to be a better friend. Because of you kids believe in hard work, fun, and the importance of getting along. Because of your patience children don't give up. Because of you kids know that they are valuable, capable, and important. Because of you hearts are strengthened and lives are changed. Somehow you realize that you aren't just partnering with the school in education or partnering with parents in raising kids. You have an understanding that you are partnering with God in molding hearts and lives that will effect a generation. Because of you they become people who take responsibility, show compassion, and make a difference: even at 5 years old. Because of you this family is grateful. You opened your classroom and your heart to our most valuable blessing and you cherished her as we do. Because of you this community is stronger. You had 21 kids whose families were all effected by your love this year. Because of you this world is a better place. Because year after year you choose to love when they come in from the sidewalk.