Skip to Content


Virginia Journal of Education

You CAN Take It With You!


What we want our students to take with them when our time together is over.

All educators want to believe that the work they do has a lasting impact on students—it’s one of the primary reasons they’ve chosen a career in schools. It’s important to them, and they can testify to the difference educators made in their own lives. So we asked our readers to get specific about some of the effects they want their work to have, to share some thoughts on just what they want students to take away from their time together. Here are some of their responses:

Declare Your Independence!
When my students leave my classroom, I hope they will view themselves as writers and thinkers who have something worthwhile to say and the confidence to both write and speak to their convictions. Our democracy depends on citizens who can think both independently and deeply, and it is my hope that they discover their own written and speaking voices through the writing, sharing, reading and discussing we do in our classroom. We need independent, individual thinkers to prepare for the future and to make progress toward a quality life for all. I hope these students see their individual experiences as both valuable and as a resource for reflection and learning throughout their lives.
Mary Tedrow, high school general and AP literature and composition teacher, Winchester

Actually, Nothing
Being a special education teacher affords me the luxury of having my students for a number of years, which enables me to see them grow and blossom. When they head to middle school, I want my students to leave me with regrets, no unanswered questions, no dashed dreams, no fear, no indifference, no closed minds, no rigid thinking, and no limits of what they can contribute to society. I also want them to leave me with an ever-growing sense of wonder, love of learning, appreciation of the world around them, and knowing that someone believes in them.
Tracey Mercier, elementary special education teacher, Bristol

We Validate
I want my students to come away knowing that for 180 days they were validated for who they are, for the life experiences they had to conquer/celebrate, and that they are truly appreciated for the remarkable young ladies and gentlemen they are and will become.
Joe Emerson, psychology and sociology teacher, Newport News

Anything is Possible
I want my students to leave my classroom with a renewed sense of possibility. Just because they had a bad five minutes at the beginning of class doesn't mean they can't turn it around! They have the power to change themselves no matter what the circumstances.

Oh, and also that I love them.
Virginia Scott, middle school English teacher, Campbell County

Cast Your Ballot!
I want my students to register to vote, educate themselves on the issues, develop an informed opinion, and exercise that right to vote.
Jeannine Chewning, AP Government teacher, Henrico County

I Was Watching
I want students to know that they were respected for who they are during the time we spent together, and to know that their individuality was noticed. Students are always watching us closely and they will leave at the end of the year knowing how their teacher’s relationship with colleagues, guests, the maintenance team, cooks, and students’ parents all add to the intensification of democracy. My students will take, along with their education, how it feels to be treated with good citizenship and honor.
Dian C. Parrotta, ESOL and English teacher, Fairfax

‘Embrace Your Weirdness’
Year after year, I see middle school students who try to be like their peers or try to fit in, and year after year I see these same students slip into bad habits and destructive behaviors. I want my students to know they are unique and valuable, to "embrace their weirdness," and to be able to make choices which show they respect themselves and others. Sure, I want them all to become better readers, writers, and critical thinkers, but what I really want is for them to take away a sense of self-worth from our time together—something much more valuable than some test scores. 
Kristina Karnes, 7th grade English teacher, Bedford County

Turn On the Power
After ten or twenty years, few students will remember the stories and essays we read in class. A few might remember what they wrote. However, as students leave my class, I want them to know they have power because they have learned to compose their ideas. Writing requires clear critical thinking about the chosen topic, whether the paper is persuasive, expository or narrative. The written word gives the speaker a chance to revise until he can say what he means with precision, and it gives the reader a chance to return and meditate upon well-written ideas. If my students can take away a passion for putting their thoughts into writing and then present those ideas effectively to an audience, either orally or in writing, then I have opened the door of influence for them, which will grow as they continue to write.
Dorothy Carter, high school general and AP English and composition teacher, Henry County

A Higher Standard
As I contemplated what I wanted my students to take away from this year, I was stunned that the standards never crossed my mind. I want students to critically think about themselves and their situation in history. Like the mirror in Harry Potter, lessons should reflect the students and an alternate reality filled with ghosts from the past that evoke new meanings for the present. I desire students to be able to articulate through written expression and never ask, “How long does this have to be?” My students, after a year in my class, will be able to debate difficult and sensitive topics in a respectful way, while developing solutions and participating in actions to implement those solutions. We will become a community of questioners and advocates. They will have no choice but to leave my classroom changed.
Lauren Ashley Villa, honors government and world history teacher, Fairfax

Accept the Challenge
As a high school special education teacher, I want my students to grow in their knowledge of their own abilities/disabilities, and become advocates for themselves, able to speak up for themselves. As case manager, I work with students throughout their entire high school time, building bonds with students and parents.
My students know I care what happens to them, and I challenge them to grow and become responsible for their success. Students often think they are the only ones with weaknesses—but we all have strengths and weaknesses, not just students identified with a disability. I'm willing to admit my weaknesses and talk about how I am successful in spite of those weaknesses.
Jennifer Andrews, high school special education teacher, Henrico County

Going Deep
I want my students to gain a deeper sense of self as they begin to learn more about diverse languages and cultures, utilizing their talents and skills to influence the world around them in responsible, positive ways.
Keisha M. Mayfield, world language teacher, Newport News

iTouch, iPad, iExpert
I’d like for our students to have a growing level of comfort with technology. That’s not an issue for many of them, because they were exposed to technology at an early age, many using a computer to play educational games. Even our kindergartners have no fear in clicking and exploring software programs.  I’d like for students to gain a better understanding of how technology can be used to help them.
Technology is an awesome tool.
Gwen Edwards, technical support specialist, Prince William

Crack a Book!
After their time with me, I’d like my students to take away that reading can be fun. Many of my special education students do not like reading, and my goal has always been to help them realize that it’s something they can really enjoy.
Alison MacArthur, English special education teacher, Frederick County

Beyond the Numbers
I want my students to know someone cares about them and wants them to be productive in life. Many times, educators are so focused on teaching the lessons and so concerned about the SOL test score that they forget that we are shaping lives. I want to imprint a large positive curve in their life that will not be reshaped with negativity.
Mildred Calhoun, geometry teacher, Chesapeake

Safe and Sound
No matter where my students go in life, I want them to remember that they were safe and secure in Ms. Williams’ class every day. I make sure they always feel positive about themselves.
Charletta Williams, second grade teacher, Norfolk

You Matter!
I want my students to learn that they matter, that their life makes a difference, and that they were put on this planet for a purpose. I want to help them discover that purpose, and I want them to feel true success by learning how to think critically and creatively, discuss important topics civilly, and write. My subject matter is important, but the life lessons are the most important things I will ever teach. 
Angelique Clarke, high school social studies teacher, Chesterfield

You’ve Got What It Takes
After spending time in my classroom, I want each of my students to realize their worth as an individual. I would believe my job as an educator has been done well if I motivate students to identify what makes them a unique person, and how their personality, attitude and attributes can be a foundation for any road they choose to travel as a contributing citizen in society.
Felicia Fox, high school family and consumer sciences teacher, Henrico

Building Community
By giving my students individualized attention, I help them reach their academic potential and work to help my class become a community that encourages and supports one another.
Erin Bull, fifth grade teacher, Montgomery County

Never Stop Learning
I want my students to walk away with a love and understanding of learning. I am a lifelong learner and want to instill that same passion in them. I encourage my students to find their science interest and explore it further.
Natalie Rhodes, middle school science teacher, Shenandoah County

A Bold Future
As my students move on from high school, my wish for them is to be filled with integrity, to face challenges and obstacles through their lives; devotion, to themselves and to their families and friends; and faith, to remind them to keep their God or whatever greater power they worship always in their hearts. I also hope for them to pay forward kindness and compassion.
Shellie Waldron, coordinator of secondary special education, Hanover County

Don’t Worry, Be Happy
I want my third-graders to have a happy year reading new books, making good friends, and knowing their teacher cared about them and enjoyed being with them.
Perrie Johnson, third grade teacher, Fluvanna County

You’ve Earned It
I want my students to leave my class with genuine, earned self confidence. Equipped with the knowledge and skills they take away from our time together, I hope they'll believe they truly have the power to make a difference through their hard work, dedication and success.
John Merritt, high school English teacher, Virginia Beach

Have Their Cake and Eat It, Too
My ultimate goal in the classroom is to continue to pay it forward and help my students understand the power of education. I want my students to leave my classroom with a since of dignity, pride and self-determination as a young person with disabilities. Learning science and math skills during that journey is just the icing on the cake!
Kellie Blair Hardt, middle school special education teacher, Arlington

No Limits
I most want my students to take away a genuine curiosity for learning, the sense that there are no barriers when it comes to learning, and a belief that they can achieve anything.
Mattie Gould, fifth grade teacher, Chesapeake

Become an Explorer
I want my students to become independent thinkers and respectful young adults who explore their creativity through reading, writing and technology.
Erin Hagedorn, middle school language arts teacher, Waynesboro 






Virginia Capital

Fund Our Schools Now


Stay in touch with VEA and your fellow members.

Check out VEA and NEA Member Benefits savings programs.

Embed This Page (x)

Select and copy this code to your clipboard