This year I’m not active in two 5th grade classrooms like I was last year. I’m not running to hands that are swung in the air for my attention on math problems. I’m not organizing a line of 5th graders in the hallway taking them down to the lunchroom. I’m not listening to issues of friends and families on a daily basis and sometimes I miss it. In that same breath, I wonder if in the insanity we call our City Year, if my students will ever remember me again? Or if anything I taught would stay with them for years to come?
In the midst of tragedy, I found the answer to my questions.
I wrote a letter to one of my 5th grade students who lost her uncle in a tragic automobile accident. I learned the news from her former 5th grade teacher, Mr. B., who I worked alongside all of last year. Mr. B. thought it would be a good idea if she heard from me. In the letter I gave my condolences and hoped that her transition to middle school was working out well. Little did I know I was going to receive a letter that would validate that my service last year in her classroom did make an impact.
I opened her letter at my desk with extreme excitement not really knowing what to expect, and from the first two lines, I started to cry. She expressed how much she loved me and missed me. She told me about some of the issues she was facing as a 6th grader but that she was making some new friends in the process. Although all those things hit me pretty hard it was the part in the letter where she mentioned that every time she opened a dictionary she would cry. She’d cry because she would remember that I taught her that “the dictionary was her friend”. It was something I said to my students if they asked me to define a word or spell it. Reading that she remembered a lesson that I taught her made me extremely proud that I was the mentor, the City Year corps member, chosen to be a part of her life.
She remembers me and a lesson I taught. I made a difference to her…