Friday, May 27, 2011

Signing off as Miss Hutchins - 2009

I am mailing out my last batch of student letters this weekend. These are the letters that kids wrote to their graduating senior selves (more on the content of these letters later). I also wrote a letter in the summer of 2009 just as school was wrapping up. It's fun to revisit what I wrote then, and what I'm writing to them now. As always, the things that matter most and that are the most true don't change much....

July 3, 2009

“Happy Thursday. Welcome to class.” I can’t think of how to start anything to you without breaking into my normal introduction to any one of our 180 English classes. As we finished out the year, I was a little nostalgic. Leaving somewhere you love will do that to you. So bear with me, while I take you on a journey down part of the road that led me to the Home of Champions….

I became a teacher for very simple reasons. I had a teacher who changed my life. She was my 7th and 8th grade Spanish teacher (shocking, I know, since you guys complained more about foreign language teachers than any other subject matter) at Pine Hollow Middle School in Concord. To be honest, I don’t remember loving the exercises we did, but I loved her. I loved how I felt when she talked to me. I loved all the potential she said that I had. I decided that I owed it to “the universe” to give back what I had been given. I needed to teach – to make someone feel as important as Miss Monteverdi made me feel. I don’t think it is overdramatic to say that she changed the course of my life. I was headed down a less-than-ideal path then, and the friends that continued down that path have struggled immensely in their adult lives. I, on the other hand, have spent my first few years as an adult teaching people like you. My life, so far, has been great.

How did I become a high school English teacher if my favorite teacher was my Spanish teacher? I knew when I entered college that I loved liberal arts – music, literature, history, art, etc – but I was best at English related things, so I started as an English major. Then throw in that I have always loved teenagers, and suddenly being a high school English teacher seemed the perfect fit. With English, I could tie in everything - the history, the music, the movies (where would our classes have been without the movies?!), and, of course, the books. With high school students, I could say, “sit down” and people would do it. I could say, “that’s what she said” and not only would you understand, you’d laugh, but not get me fired for it. I could talk to you about the real world. Maybe, somewhere along the way, we could learn how to write better introductions and figure out how to escape the Combine and the beast within.

I spent two years of my English teaching career laughing and learning with you at San Ramon Valley High School. We read some great and some not-so-great books. We learned some of the essentials of writing. More importantly, we learned about each other, and we learned about ourselves. I hope you learned that there is nothing you cannot do, and that you owe it to yourself and to those around you to not settle for doing less than your best. That does not mean that you have to be stressed and serious all the time. It simply means that you need to work hard at the things you love, and that you need to value people and value ideas – whether you agree with the people and their ideas or not. And, of course, you need to laugh while you work, while you play, while you do whatever-- life is hard enough without being pessimistic along the way.

It’s only been three weeks since we ended the 2008-2009 school year, but it feels like much longer. I have packed more than a dozen boxes and locked the door to E4 for the last time. I have already started studying (something that should be a crime in July) for my upcoming courses in the fall. I think about you all often. It’s amazing how much I enjoyed being with you. There’s that cliché idea, that if you find a job that you love, that you won’t “work” a day in your life. It’s true. Spending my mornings and afternoons with you did not feel like work.

I am so excited for what the upcoming year holds for you. For my juniors – this year is it – the parting shot to San Ramon. For my sophomores, the best is yet to come. Junior year is fantastic. I cannot wait to hear all about it. See you soon—

No comments: