Dear High School Kids,
We aren’t the kindergarten teachers. I don’t keep the same twenty something kids throughout the entire year, and throw classroom parties for each one’s birthday. Those are the kind of teacher posts I’ve been reading nonstop, and I admire those teachers.
I empathize with how they’re heartbroken they are missing handshakes, and the 100th day of school party. I am not greeting my kids with hugs every morning, texting cute photos to their moms, and doing all those perfect warm things that elementary and even middle school teachers do.
While I love these things that they do, I am not the type. I’m an even tempered, empathetic, twenty-something, five foot tall, no children of my own, English teacher.
I have roughly 120 kids a day, and I change them at the semester. That gives me roughly 240 kids a year. As I teach a core class, and am one of two teachers for freshmen and sophomores I have taught most or at least half of the nearly thousand kids on campus. Those are my kids.
While not every teenager and I click, there are more students than not that I would say are my kids. A handful even call me their school mom. I am the teacher who gets called, emailed, texted to figure out why they’re skipping class, have a low grade, have been absent or more. Not their parents— me. See high school kids are the age where parents step way back. I don’t see the room moms, phone calls go unanswered, there are no school supply list and donations being filled.
Teenagers have a tendency to shut parents out. So I buy their paper, notebooks, pencils. I sit with your child while they cry— probably my least favorite teacher moment. I tell your daughters to hold their head high after that crappy boy broke her heart. Even after I warned her that he was trouble to start. I promise her that better men will come in due time, and encourage her to save herself— let Prince Charming be the bonus.
I sit with your sons and tell them girls don’t mean to play games with them. I tell them to treat people fairly and honestly. I talk them out of laying hands on people, even though Bobby probably does deserve to get punched.
I help them look at their talents and skills, and try to steward them toward a lifetime and career in their passion. I watch them struggle, and often I let them struggle.
See I don’t get to be the kindergarten teacher who scoops them up and tells them it’s alright. I stand beside and tell them to get up because they have to. I teach them grit laced with compassion and empathy. I tell them they have to want something because they want it bad enough to work for it, not because someone said they could be or have whatever they want.
I talk about them, worry for them, show up for them, my husband who knows nothing about kids knows their names and their stories from me.
I chaperone prom, and watch the final memories of being a child fade as they graduate into adults. This is what we are missing right now. This is what hurts our hearts, we miss our kids— all one thousand of you. We are sorry we cannot stand beside to watch you close the final chapter of your high school years.
High School Teachers
Everywhere in America
More to Read:
Jordan VanderLey grew up in a small town in Tennessee where fell in love with books at an early age. Her love of literature led her to obtain a degree in English Education from East Tennessee State University, and her love of race cars and one driver in particular landed her in Mooresville, NC where she began her teaching career. She will receive her Master’s degree in Human Resource Management with a certification in Event Planning in May from Western Carolina University. When she is not reading and teaching, she’s decorating and making both her personal and work spaces more beautiful.