Elementary school teacher Steven Kaminski, GC’03, began his school year with a compassion-filled open letter to students. Here’s an excerpt:
When I was your age, I was really shy and quiet. I never wanted the teacher to call on me because I didn’t want to get the answers wrong in front of everyone. You should know it’s OK to guess and not get everything right. It’s really important that you try your best.
You aren’t my first class. You are my 14th.
For the last 13 years, I have taught a lot of students who each year have come into my class about 180 times — that’s a lot of hellos.
Now let’s do just a little math, just a little I promise. That’s about 325 students since I started teaching. Well, there’s more than that because I taught some kids who came to my class just for math or social studies. So it’s probably closer to about 400 now.
That’s a lot of talking and teaching. That’s a lot of time together every year.
So you can trust the fact that I’m ready for you to arrive.
I’ve had some practice.
Remember when I told you about being better at the important stuff by the time you leave my class? … What I mean though is that I hope you’ll be a better person after we’ve spent a year together. I hope you’ll look around more, notice more, care more, and share more. I hope you’ll learn more about yourself and really understand that you have gifts. …
Last thing, because this is getting kinda long and this isn’t reading class so we should finish up. You should know that I think about you when I go home and probably the next day when I go back to school again.
Teachers do that, you know. They don’t leave school and forget about what happened that day. If you had a bad day, I will wonder why and what I can do to help. I’ll even wonder if I did something that made your day less than awesome. If you had a great day, I’ll be cheering even if you can’t hear me. Can you tell I want you to have a great year?
So, see you on the first day of school.