Letter to a Student

20 10 2011


Dear Bela,
Yesterday you handed me an orange piece of construction paper folded to look like a hat. Covering the entire paper were words: encouraging words of love and words describing how I had, somehow, touched your life.  If ever you need proof that God is in heaven looking down on us and taking care of each of us when we need it, all you need to know is I believe your message was directed by God.  I needed that.  He knew.


You described how you love writing and the way that I teach it.  You asked where I get all those crazy ideas.  When you love to do something, that feeling is transmitted to others.  I love to write, and I’m encouraged that my love of writing shows, and I’m so glad that you share this love.  Writing gives me a way to communicate clearly the ideas that I have.  Through writing, I have the power to touch lives, to take people to places they have never been before.  Writing provides a structure to my thoughts, and I’ve always been a thinker.  The ideas for my writing and the writing we do as a class come from my experiences.  I’m always thinking, wondering, dreaming.  I get ideas out of books, out of classes I take, from other teachers, from a trip to the grocery store.  These ideas are out there, waiting for a thinker to grab ahold and tie them down to paper.  Last year, one of these ideas came to one of my students.  She saw a hole in the wall on the way to P.E.  She wondered, she thought, she wrestled with her ideas, and then she wrote a delightful story about a group of friends who fell into a portal to another world.  The ideas are there for the taking!


You wrote, on that orange piece of folded paper, about how your feelings about Social Studies have changed because of my teaching.  You said, “You…make SS, the boaring SS, sound fun.”  Bela, you could not have flattered me more, buttered me up more, or paid me a higher compliment.  I’m glad that you are learning Social Studies, but even more heartened that you are learning to love it.  You know, it’s strange: until I started to teach American history, I really didn’t have much of an interest in it.  When I was forced to learn it so well that I could teach it, I started reading other history books, books that told “the inside story,” books that gave a more personal view of what happened in our country’s past.  Reading these other books gave me the background and knowledge to teach with enthusiasm, bringing heart to our studies.  The more I read, the more I learned, the more comfortable I became with our history, until now I look back and view our past like my old grandmother, full of stories, both heartfelt and funny.  And when we know our country’s past and dwell upon its mistakes and struggles, we become better prepared to lead our country through the events of today.


You asked, in the last folded section of paper labeled “Step 4,” how I can bring myself to school every day in the face of students who throw up obstacles to my teaching and your learning.  Bela, this is truly something I struggle with every day.   I’m not a perfect teacher (all the perfect teachers become principals!).  I say things I shouldn’t.  I’m not always tactful. I push hard, sometimes too hard.  But I do care about each and every one of you kids, and every day I start fresh with the fervent hope and prayer that I will reach those students that I haven’t yet reached, that I will touch a life.  That’s why your letter meant so much to me, because yesterday I reached at least one student.  And that student is you.


Thank you, Bela, for letting God work through you.  He knew how much I needed that encouragement, as we all do at times.  And I hope I have answered your questions.

With love,

Your teacher,

Mrs. Eberhard


P.S.  Keep wearing those skull earrings!  They are awesome!




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