As you prepare to go back to school in a little over a week, I want you to take one thingÂ with you: Â thank you.
So, the intro is a little rambling, but it leads somewhere. Â Last night, my family played Singo at Crafter’s Brew, and one of the songs on my sheet (which never got played, thoughÂ the title was there) was Oye Como Va. Â Naturally, this is the song stuck in my head this morning, even though I haven’t actually heard the song in years. Â I’m a little amazed that I still remember what that means without even thinking, since I haven’t really had the opportunity to really use the Spanish I learned in jr. high and high school for decades.
Thank you, Kathleen Alexander, for taking a moment to encourage me. Â In 9th grade Spanish, you asked if Spanish was spoken in my home. Â I said no — none of my familyÂ speaks anything but English. Â You then said you thought they did, because my accent was so authentic. Â That compliment has stayed with me for 40 years, and encouraged me to try harder. Â Your encouragement for me to apply for an exchange program profoundly changed my life.
I wasn’t the best student, but I still remember teachers who took a moment to praise my work. Â I was always surprised to hear it, because I was driven pretty hard at home and “you can do better” was what I expected to hear. Â Mrs. Irwin at Linden praised my spelling and reading, so I tried even harder. Â Mrs. Kidd at Robertsville complimented my writing, so I wrote more.
My senior year of high school, I already had enough English credits to graduate, so I took Creative Writing just because I thought it sounded interesting. Â Ruth Cates Baird took me aside after the first week and told me I didn’t belong in that class, and suggested that I sign up for college English at Roane State. Â It was too late to enroll, so she simply told me that she would give me different assignments and grade me as a college professor would. Â Ms. Baird, I finished off my first quarter Freshman English at UT (Creative Writing) with a 100% average, thanks to you.
There are many more; if I tried to list them all, I would inevitably wake up in the middle of the night with the terrible realization that I’d forgotten someone.
The takeaway is this: any small praise for a student’s work, particularly the student who isn’t always at the top of the class, may very well stick with them and motivate them to try harder. Â Thank you for all that you do, with too many requirements, too much paperwork, too little pay and too little praise for your accomplishments. Â I hope this year is an excellent year.