A Letter To My Former Student

Jose Vilson Education, Jose

Hey former student,

I just wanted to say that it was great seeing you today. You’ve grown so big. Your shoulders are bigger, and you’re a little reminiscent of your mom. Your vocabulary’s grown a lot, and I already have a sense of how you’ll sound when you become a young lady. I always knew you had it in you. I’m not surprised that you ran and screamed my name in the middle of Harlem just to say to me since you’ve always liked me as a teacher, but I’m surprised to have even seen you since I had just thought about you and the rest of the students in my very first class at our school.

With all that’s happened to me recently, from the visit to the ER for my heart problem to my cousin’s death, I reminisced about some of the last few events over the past week. In particular, I started to focus on the 8th graders vs. Staff basketball game (we won), and the recent prom. Then I remember how you were the prom queen, and how so many of my kids were there, so well dressed and so impressive.

Then, I reminisced back to when you were 7th graders, my first homeroom. You were the only class who’s ever thrown me a birthday party, and a surprise one at that. Your class is the only class I felt like getting gifts for as a whole. Your class is the only class I cried for because I was so proud of you all. I could talk to all of you about anything, especially the news, and many of you appreciated those words of wisdom. I developed great relationships with almost all of the parents in your class, and almost felt like that second father, or even the father that some of your classmates never had. I could be everything in front of you all, and still feel like what I said would resonate in your minds.

Even during our rough spots, I never felt anything short of love from the majority of you. Now, it seems that the students I teach have become less appreciative of the teachers who care for them. At least on the surface. In two years, after I’ve been their math teacher for 3 years, I wonder if they’ll make me as proud as you have. I wonder if, when I go to their proms, I’ll have secret moments when I wish I was still sitting next to you reminding you to multiply the variable with all the inside terms, reminding you why you can’t calculate the slope the way you did, or pumping my fist in excitement over you knowing that there is a relationship between multiplying two variables with each other and finding the area of a square.

And seeing you today kinda makes me miss that feeling of pride. I know I still see some of you, strolling by 52 with parents or not-that-significant others. Sometimes, I even get to catch you on my Teacher MySpace, seeing you throw up deuces like you’re that cool. Even if most of you don’t end up remembering me decades from now, I’m still grateful to have had the opportunity to not only teach you, but hopefully inspiring you to become better people and not just students. You all weren’t always the perfect class, but I still miss you all …

mr. v