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Meaningful Messages

Virginia students take time to thank teachers who've changed their lives.

The most meaningful rewards of working with young people are often the intangible ones—the moment when understanding dawns in a student’s eyes, the stressed-out youngster whose confidence you’re able to restore, the students and families with whom you form lasting relationships. One of the things that means the most to educators is when a student takes the time to say “thank you,” even (and sometimes especially) if it happens years later.

We asked some of our readers to share notes and messages of gratitude that have come their way during their careers in our public schools, and here are some examples of what they contributed:

The Chemistry Was Right
I just wanted to send u a message so I could tell you how much of a privilege it has been to have you as my teacher 2 years in a row. You are such an incredible person, and u taught me so much, not just about chemistry, but also about being a good person. You have shaped me into a better person, and I am so honored to have had you in my life. You’re so understanding, easy to talk to, and you’re such a beautiful person on the inside and out and you have such a big heart. Thank you for helping me become the person I am today, and pushing me when I needed it, and knowing exactly what to say at exactly the right time! I can't tell u how much you mean to me, and how hard it’s going to be to say goodbye! You will be the first teacher I run to when I visit next year!      
Tammy Wood, Roanoke County

A Voice From the Past
You probably don't remember me. I was in your 8th grade English class back in 1992. I only attended your school for that year because my family relocated, but I have since moved back to the area. I can’t believe that you are still teaching here! Throughout the years I have always looked back fondly at everything I learned in your class. I can honestly say that you are one of those teachers who have impacted my life for the better! I was fairly new to the country and was still learning English, but that did not stop you from encouraging me to step up and represent my class in the Spelling Bee. I was so nervous on stage I got my first word wrong but you were there to be supportive. I also still remember "A Raisin in the Sun.” I can't recite it anymore, but still think back at how many times you had us repeat it until we memorized it.

I simply did not want to let any more time go by without contacting you and sharing what a difference you made in my life. It was only a year...but what you taught me will stay with me for a lifetime.
Shirley Cordell-Robinson, Fredericksburg

Jurassic Thanks
A very challenging student with autism was moving to another school, but before he left, he delivered a card and a gift to me. His mother informed me that he wanted to buy me a special gift because he was going to miss me; he picked out his favorite thing of all time- a dinosaur!  To this day I still have the dinosaur and the touching thank-you card sitting on my bookshelf.
One year a third grade class of mine actually surprised me with a birthday party on the last day of school. My birthday wasn’t until July so they actually managed to plan and surprise me!  Several students brought in contributions for the party and left them with a neighboring teacher, then at lunch time, while I was in the cafeteria with the class, the students asked the room parent to set up for the party.  After we returned from recess I was astonished to see how beautifully decorated my classroom was, with gifts and all! I felt so honored and humbled.  This year, I received invitations to high school graduation ceremonies and celebrations from many of those students. Again, I felt honored and humbled. 
Dusti Johnson, Portsmouth

Where Would I Be Without You?
I want to thank you for all that you have done. I don't know what I would do if I didn't have your help. When I struggled with math you were right there for me. In science you helped me bring my B to an A. You have done much more than that for me, so thank you. I hope in middle school I will have a teacher just like you. I will miss you so much, and I hope I will see you around.
Kathryn Tighe, Williamsburg/James City

Meeting the Challenge
Whether you realize it or not, your class changed my life in many ways. At first, I didn’t enjoy it, not because of you but because it was challenging. I was so uncomfortable with being challenged. I remember acting sick just to get out of class in second grade. After a few years, the random interesting facts you said and the lessons you taught gave me a newfound love of learning, which I still have. Also, performing in Romeo and Juliet was my fondest memory of elementary school. You’re more than likely wondering how these events changed my life. They taught me that challenges often bring happiness and pride and build character. Now, instead of shying away from an obstacle I take it head-on. You and your class taught me that and changed my life. Thank you.
Patricia Baker, Fauquier County (from a high school student that she taught in elementary school)

Following in Your Footsteps
I didn't know you were retiring! Congratulations! I will always fondly remember my experiences in your eighth-grade English class and I will specifically treasure some nice comments you made to me as a student. There is no doubt in my mind about how you will spend your time next year. You have done more for our community than would be physically possible for most people, and you are to be commended.
Barbara Wilson, Louisa County (from a former student who is now a teacher)

The Art of Appreciation
You have been a very nice, caring art teacher. You taught me a lot I did not know before about art.  You are so good at art. I wish I could be like you someday! God bless you.
Thanks for helping me to be a better drawer and artist.  I relly like when I come to art and do all the fun activities.  I relly think you'r a great artist.
Precious Crabtree, Fairfax County (third-graders)

If You Love My Kid, I Love You
I just wanted to say thank you so very much for all that you have done for my son. I know teaching him was a task and I am sure there were days you wanted to give up on him, but you didn't and for that I am most grateful. I thank God for you and I am truly going to miss you. These words that I write cannot express the love and gratitude my heart feels. You have made a huge impact on our son and our family and I hope and pray that God blesses you and your family abundantly because you are an angel among angels. My eyes well up with tears as I end this letter; I will never forget you and all that you have done. You will always be a part of us.
Tracy Linkous, Roanoke City

You Stuck With Me
I just wanted to say thank you for an amazing year. I'm sure you’re very aware that I'm not the best student in the world and my procrastination gets me in more trouble than anyone would like! Through all of that you have put up with me and made my senior year a very enjoyable one. You’re an amazing teacher who has much more than English to teach and I feel like a more complete and well-rounded person for having taken your class. The way you carry yourself and support both sides without losing yourself is truly inspiring and meaningful to me.
Donald Wilms, Chesterfield County

Life’s a Breeze
My first college calculus class seemed like a breeze after having you as a teacher. Upon completion of my first year at ODU, I was offered a job to work in the Math Lab on campus, a tutoring center for calculus students, which is typically a graduate level position.
Heather Foxwell, Chesapeake

Wanted You to Know
This little thank-you note is to let you know how much I appreciate everything you have done to support me in this very important phase of my life. Thanks for believing in me when sometimes I felt like throwing in the towel, but your encouragement and support kept me focused.  I will always remember you as I move on in life.
Deb Romig, Chesterfield County

An Elementary List
Thank you for:
• Teaching me well.
• Making my classes fun.
• Being the best teacher.
• Doing the best job you can.
• Making the class understand the work.

Love you like a Mom!
Liz Goodson, Fauquier County (from second-graders)

You Made It Happen
My son suffered a stroke while in utero, which left him with a slight gait issue and very limited use of his left hand. During his first year in middle school, he was fortunate to be placed in Ms. Kelso’s physical education class. Cognizant of his disability, she challenged him to do many different activities in PE, providing adaptations when and as necessary. This was a welcome change for our son (and a delight for his parents!) as his elementary school PE classes were often limited to activities where he had limited success due to his disability. In his own words, “She helped me find ways around things I couldn’t do in PE.”  Ms. Kelso was able to identify areas where he could participate.  When she thought that certain activities might be more difficult, she sought the help of our son’s larger IEP team. We are so appreciative of her proactive efforts.

Ms. Kelso is an outstanding teacher – her efforts in accommodating my son in her class were handled in such a seamless way that he felt nothing but included and successful there. 
Charlotte Kelso, Arlington (from a parent letter)

A Shared History
I just wanted to write you a note to tell you how much I appreciate you. Not only did I have my best year of history ever, but I have continued to enjoy our conversations. You have been so much more than a history teacher to so many students; you are an example in life. Thank you for your willingness to take up a career of service to teenagers who might not even appreciate it. On those days when you might question that decision, just remember students like me who are so thankful for that encouragement. Mr. P., you rock at what you do and any student is lucky to have you, but even more lucky to know you!
Michael Palermo, Arlington

Totally ‘Chill’
You are the best teacher I will ever have. You're the only teacher I've trusted, well, actually, the only adult. You do a lot to try to get me to pass and I thank you for that. You are the "chillest" adult I know. You're like a mom to me. Thank you for everything.
You are so much more than a teacher. You are a friend. You are an inspiration to live life to the fullest and never give up hope. You are another mother to me. You have a big heart that bleeds with unconditional love which makes you stand out from the rest of the world. You have touched so many lives, including mine, with your teaching and amazing personality....You have made an incredible impact on my life. I just want to say...thank you, Mama Arch.  Thank you for everything.
Pat Archibald, Chesapeake

Helping You Understand
I don't think you understand how much I love you! I am going to miss you so much. You taught me so much in learning and in common sense!
Cindy Campbell, Smyth County

A Real Mentor
I just want to take the time to say thank you! I know you would go through hell and back for me. I know I got on your nerves when I didn’t call to tell you that I wasn’t coming to practice or when I let you down, and I’m sorry. You’ve taught me to be a strong young adult. People fail to realize that you are not only a teacher, you are the definition of a true mentor! You have made me the true definition of a leader. Ms. Lewis, although I gave up, you never did! I love you for all that you have done and sacrificed for me. You are my second Mom.
Urzetta Lewis, King George County

A Matter of ‘Principal’
Michael and I didn’t want to miss this opportunity to thank you for helping to make the last three years of elementary school such a wonderful experience for him (and me!).  We have so appreciated your strong leadership, your consistent and natural interaction with the children, and your keen ability to unify a very diverse group of students and parents.
 Our family didn’t know what to expect when our street was “re-districted.” Michael’s three older siblings attended the same (neighborhood) elementary school, which provided quite a comfort zone, so Michael’s “uprooting” was initially very tough. However, you showed us that extra care, attention, enthusiasm and positive reinforcement began with you and filtered throughout your entire network of teachers! 
Judy Lackey, Roanoke

A Blessing
Curtis and I are very grateful for all the time, patience and care you gave Jacob this school year. Your dedication as a teacher is obvious and we were blessed to have you.
Charletta Williams, Norfolk



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