My seniors graduate in 3 weeks. Since I teach 10th and AP, I have had a dozen or so of my students for 2 years. I also have about 5 that I coached in soccer or field hockey.
At the end of the year, I have the students write thank you letters to 3 of their teachers. Some chose me. I look forward to these letters every single year. Because this is why I do my job.
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Here are some excerpts:
"You've not only been a teacher figure in my life, but a mentor. I know I can come to you with anything and you'll give me great advice." (one of my Freshman soccer players and 2-time English student)
"...you were almost more of a mentor to me rather than my English teacher. You taught me more than just English, you taught me life lessons. Such as valuable communication and people skills, how to present myself." (the kid I gave a referral for possibly being on drugs after a crazy group discussion)
"I have never learned so much in an English class before and I actually enjoyed it...What's nice about you is that you get to know your students on a personal level. That way they are not just students to you but actual people who have certain problems besides not being able to do multiple choice well."
"I feel I've been spoiled the past two years to have such a passionate and understanding teacher. In my sophomore year you taught me how to read literature, and this year you have taught me how to write. I cannot express how much you have influenced the person that I have become."
"...with your warm welcoming style of teaching you pushed me to places I thought I could never go."
"Throughout all of elementary school, middle school and my first quarter of high school, I could not see the point of having an English class. However, your teaching opened my eyes and showed me that a simple sentence can have a thousand meanings behind it."
"You're the only teacher I know that can give out thousands of projects but actually have an impact on my learning."
"I loved those days when you would show us YouTube videos and your wedding photos!" (I was pretty casual with my 6th period AP class at times...we were tired. : ) )
"No matter how much we had to annotate, write essays, and go through what seemed like millions of multiple choice questions, it was all worth it because it really did prepare me for the AP test."
"You have helped me be able to manage my time more efficiently and also helped me have more hope in my mother being able to fight cancer. If it weren't for you, I wouldn't have know who to go to for help....P.S. My mom's recent CAT scan has shown that her cancer has reduced!" (A student living with his 20 year old uncle while his Dad is in Seattle and his mom is in Hong Kong to get cancer treatment.)
"First of all, I would like to thank you so much for being honestly one of the greatest teachers I've ever had. My freshman year, my love for English class began to die down due to the lack of actual learning happening. But then, I had you the next year and I feel in love with English all over again."
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I truly love these kids. This is why I do my job. I should probably submit this to the local paper!