I don’t know you and you don’t know me, but today you become one of the most important people in my life. You are the one. The one who I’ve entrusted to take care of my girl in my absence. The one who I’ve tasked with teaching her things that I cannot. The one who will make an indelible mark on her little soul that will forever shape her perspective of learning.
This is a difficult transition for our family because until this moment in her life, it’s been her Dad and me who’ve made these impressions. We fail and fall short each and every day, but everything we’ve done has been done with great love. Now, we’ll share our influence with you, and we hope that you understand your significance in her life.
These are the things we ask of you as we place our most precious gift in your hands:
We are sending her to you to learn reading and writing and arithmetic, but greater than her need for any academic pursuit is her need to be loved and cherished. Take the time to see her unique gifts and her unique challenges. You cannot love her if you don’t know her, and although your day is undoubtedly filled with a to-do list longer than anyone realizes, make this one first on your list. She will learn far more from someone who delights in her than someone who doesn’t. Show her that there are other adults in the world besides her parents who will love her, who she can trust, who will advocate for her, who see the good in her and will help her along this journey of life.
Although it’s easily lost in the day-to-day shuffle, remember the weight that your words carry. Our teachers carry incredible power in their words, and in many ways they tell us who we are and who we will become. Use your words wisely. Use them to encourage and empower her, to build her confidence. Open her eyes wide with the excitement of learning. Be the teacher who shows her that learning brings with it a world of adventure. More important than any lesson you can plan is to teach her to love learning. It’s the one lesson that will stay with her forever.
Teach kindness and respect
I know you will be focused on reaching academic milestones, but also know that more than any letter on a report card, I desire for my child to learn to live well with others. I tell her that she is special and wonderfully made, but she also needs to know that each and every other child around her is, too. Demand respect from her for yourself and for her peers, and do not accept anything less. Guide her to be patient and kind. Care for her and teach her to care for others.
Know how much we appreciate your sacrifice
Please know that I understand how much I am asking of you. I know that you stand in between these walls each and every day not in search of financial or professional rewards, but because you care about my child and many others. While you may feel undervalued by the rest of the world, please know that you are incredibly valued by our family. Thank you for the sacrifices you’ve made to spend your days with my little one. Thank you for all of the time, money and effort you spend preparing lesson plans, decorating your classroom, obtaining supplies that the school can’t provide. Those hours that you’ve spent that no one knows about and no one pays you for are not spent in vain.
You are investing in the future of my child, and for that I am forever grateful.
Courtney Schmidt is medical communications editor, Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, Orlando, FL. She blogs at Illuminate.
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