Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Email

I spent the past two and a half weeks with my son enjoying the holidays. It wasn't until driving home from our New Year's weekend at the beach, that I realized that I only had one day left to be home. When I woke up yesterday, I thought about how I would actually have to set an alarm and get up when it went off, how I would have to grade papers again, and attend meetings. At that moment, I wasn't exactly thrilled. When Liam went down for his nap, I took a couple of minutes to read some of my work e-mails (knowing full well that there would be a lot of them). When I saw the long list of things that I would have to eventually read, I got overwhelmed and decided that I would just pick and choose for now.
As I scrolled down the list, I saw a distant, but familiar name. The e-mail was written by a student that I had two years ago in a reading class. I thought that this was odd, probably a chain e-mail that was mistakenly sent to me. When I look back at my time with this student, not a whole lot comes to mind. She was a sweet, quiet girl, who did her work, but never acted overly interested. So it was a total shock for me when I opened the e-mail and realized that not only was it actually written by my student, to me, but that it was a thank you letter.
As I read, I began to tear up. She told me about her love for poetry and that, until that day, she had no idea where that love came from. She proceeded to tell me that when she thought back to when her love for it began, all she could remember was the Halloween that she had spent in my classroom, and the poems that I read to her class that day. She was refering to my yearly Edgar Allen Poe day- I read The Tell-Tale Heart and The Raven. She told me that she was so taken by the poems that I read that day, that she went to the library and checked out a book full of poems by Poe, which then turned into poems by Jane Austen, and then Shakespeare.
She had also added four beautiful poems that she had written to the end of the e-mail, for me to read. She explained that without me, she would never have thought of poetry in the way that she does now. She expressed a desire to write for a career and explained how much of an outlet it had become for her. Until this point, I would have never thought that she would be a student who I had an impact on. I remember talking to her about her work and the books she was reading, but she never gave any indication that she was being "inspired" while in my classroom.
This got me thinking about the hundreds of students who I have taught throughout my short teaching career thus far, and about how many students I could be reaching without ever knowing it. I also thought about how I had no idea that one day's worth of poetry reading could have this much of an impact on a student. When I got into teaching, I knew that I wouldn't be able to reach every student that walked into my classroom, but I now know that I'm reaching more than I think, and in ways I can't see.
Since having Liam, I have felt a bit of a disconnect from my work. I have always loved it, but it took a backseat to all that was going on at home. But last night when I went to bed, I couldn't sleep. Not because I was dreading the alarm clock, but because I couldn't wait to see my kiddos! I have a renewed excitment about teaching and I feel like I did my first year as an educator.
I can never thank this student enough for the gift that she has given me!


  1. Awww, that's so sweet! I always find it amazing how people can make impressions on each other. How nice of her to write you that email!

  2. I thought so too! Her e-mail really changed my whole outlook on going back after a long break at home. I even read it again before going back this week, to remind myself of how I have been making a difference.