Thank You, Teacher!
The Oscars may be given for outstanding achievement in motion pictures, but for many CTA members, receiving a thank-you letter from a current or former student is like winning an Oscar. At least, that’s what some of the educators tell us who have shared these letters.
JoNellia Guinn, a member of the Association of Classified Employees, has received numerous letters in her 15 years as principal secretary at Culver City High School. She forwarded a few, noting, “It’s letters like these that make my job so rewarding.” One of those letters was from a graduating senior.
Dear Mom Guinn,
Thank you for your words of encouragement and for helping me through this college process. Thank you for always having a positive attitude and making me want to be a better person. Culver City High School could not function productively without you. You are the heart and soul of the entire school. Please keep in contact with me after high school because I consider you family and now you are stuck with me!
Mathieu H. Austin, a member of the Acton-Agua Dulce Teachers Association and a business teacher at Vasquez High School in Lancaster, was pleased to find out the impression he made on one former student. Austin writes, “This is the most recent and the most humbling letter I’ve ever received.”
Dear Mr. Austin,
On Monday I started college. I chose business as my major, not because I expect to be a rich entrepreneur or because I want to rule the stock market. I chose business because the theories and relevance of the field of flowing money and transactions interest me. The relationship between the details of the legal aspects and the general picture of a successful venture is something that I want to learn more about and ultimately apply in my life. Maybe I’ll want to build headphones, maybe I’ll want to set up a record label, maybe I’ll want to be a valuable asset to an existing company. I might not always succeed in everything I pursue, but I will be knowledgeable enough to pursue dreams without getting caught in loopholes and (hopefully) debt. You were my favorite teacher, and not just because of my grade. You made sure things weren’t vague, you took an active role in teaching, you graded fairly based on content and not semantics, and you gave me hope for a higher education. I wanted to take the time to thank you for all you’ve taught me, and the way you taught it. I hope many more students of all kinds get as much out of your class as I did. And, I appreciated your sense of humor.
Johanna Rauhala, a seventh-grade English and history teacher and a member of the Mount Diablo Education Association, was thrilled to receive an e-mail this year from a student she taught 12 years ago. “This young man had been a student of mine 12 years ago,” she writes. “He was born in Afghanistan, had been living in Saudi Arabia, but was visiting the U.S. for only one year. When I read his words, I am reminded of the power of literature and the humanity of our work.”
I was in the U.S. for a year only, but that year made a huge difference to me in many ways: culturally, socially, academically, and in more ways that I can describe.
I spent some time recalling the memories I had there and they were very fond indeed: reenacting a scene from “Number the Stars,” a novella that deeply touched me; I wasn’t aware of the persecution of the Jews during WWII until then. Also, I remember having so much fun cracking a coconut open with a rock under a candlelight with fellow classmates (it was my first time eating a coconut as well) and drawing woolly mammoths with chalk. I think the project was to experience what it was like to be a caveman.
Anyway, I doubt you remember and I don’t really expect you to reply to this strange and unexpected e-mail, but I just want to say thanks for everything you did. I have a great deal of respect for all of my old teachers that put the time, effort, patience, creativity and sincerity to my education, growth and well-being. It was a great experience, and I hope to never forget that memorable year in your classroom.