Tuesday, July 9, 2013

{A Letter to a Remarkable Woman}

I was feeling particularly blue in a strand of blue days and was thinking about life and the people that had influenced it. I decided to search out a my favorite teacher on Facebook. No easy task, since I hadn't seen her since 3rd grade, in another state, while she was still young and unwed. This was a woman who had made a difference in my life growing up and has stuck with me throughout my education. She is one of the few teachers my Mom spoke highly of, and when I, by chance ( and a little skill), found her, I decided to send her a message:

I'm sure you won't remember me, as it's been years and years, but I thought I'd seek you out and let you know how much of an impact you had on me as a teacher. You taught me 3rd grade at Cimmaron Elementary School. I was a tough student, I had problem behaviors, and I struggled every step of the way through school, right up to graduation with my Bachelors. Of all the teachers I've had throughout the years, you've always stuck out to me. You had a compassionate countenance, a way with making a student feel special, and a talent for instilling a love for learning.

My favorite book is -still- Lafcadio, and it still sits on my shelf of my complete Shel Silverstein collection. And while I've grown to love many genres of books I still have an affinity for children's literature, and have always sought opportunities to work with Children to share that same love you instilled in me.

I chose to get a degree in Elementary Education. My choice confused some of my teachers, and when a less supportive teacher confronted me with my choice I explained to her that children deserved to have teachers that had walked a while in their shoes, struggled as they had, and empathized with what they were going through, and yet could still inspire them to do better. I taught in title one schools before deciding that I needed a break from the bureaucracy. I spent last year in China teaching English for Disney, and am currently working as an independent case manager with individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

I want you to know, that you were instrumental in shaping the mindset I have when choosing my work, and my passions. Teachers like you made it possible for me to see myself beyond my behaviors and my problems, and instead focus on potential and the capacity for achieving.
I hope life has lead you to do much good with your talents, and that this finds you happy and content in life.
Thank you for teaching.
Ashley Dickinson McLemore
 It felt great to get to send her something I had been wanting to say for years, and was really moved by what she wrote back.: 
You made my day!! Of course I remember that face. Thank you for adding the picture. I just received news from my boss today that makes me feel like I failed and changes what may lie ahead of me for this next year, my 21st year of teaching. Bureaucracy... to the highest extreme!! I just moved to 4th grade after all those years at 1st-3rd. God had your message perfectly timed and I am so thankful that He blessed me with you.
Just for the record I don't recall seeing you as such a tough student either. I can name several others that took the place of memorable extremes of behavior even in the year that I had you at Cimarron.
Another co-inkydink is that I just placed a call to Cherry Creek today asking if there was a particular position still available. Texas is a different planet compared to Colorado and while there are plenty of wonderful things here, there's no place like home.

I still share Lafcadio with my students. I still have the same copy I read to you on my shelf. It still makes kids think and gives them a reason to laugh. Thanks for sticking to who you are and not trying to be someone else. I ran across a plaque last week that said, "Stick to being yourself because the job of of everyone else has already been filled."

My students are reminded, "Once you are mine, you are always mine... no matter how many years have passed, no matter if old age makes me forget a name, I will always love you and want the best for you."
Thanks for taking the time to find me and share with me. I would love to know more about what else life has brought your way.

Mrs. W (at least that is still somewhat the same:)


Life changes, children grow, plans don't always work out, but the influence we have on others stays and stays. I'm grateful that I was able to let her know that she had that lasting impact on me, and even more so by her uplifting words when I needed them most. 

Do you have someone that could use your praise, encouragement, appreciation, or just a kind word? Don't wait to give that simple gift, let them know that they are valued. We all need it. 


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