Letter to Grade 1s

To my "Wonderful Ones" (past, present, and future),
From the moment you enter my room you are "my kids." You are unique, you are eager, you are treasured. I am your counselor, your exercise instructor, your nurse, your dry-cleaner, your friend, your cheerleader, your shoe-tier, your tooth -extractor, your jacket-zipper...and oh, yes...your teacher.
I will teach you to respect, to cooperate, to explore, to problem-solve, to be grateful, and to be positive contributors to our classroom, and eventually, our society. For the very first time I will teach you to read, to write, to add, to subtract-and in only ten short months. It certainly does sound like an awful lot to accomplish in such a short time, but I promise that we'll be so busy having fun, you won't even notice. So tonight after my toddler heads to sleep when I should be cleaning my house, or weeding the garden, I will be cutting out pieces for this cool new math game I made us, I will be searching the internet for songs to help us remember our doubles facts, I will be at the store buying froot loops to help us learn our "oo" sound in word work tomorrow, I will be sorting through pictures of you to glue into your scrapbook, and I will "pin" until my eyes are sore. I will do it all happily-because I care. I know we say goodbye at the end of each day, but the truth is I never stop thinking about you.
Sometimes I worry too. I worry about your progress, your friendships, your lost dog, why you didn't have a lunch yesterday, your mom and dad's upsetting divorce, or how to get you on that tremendously long wait-list for an assessment (so that maybe, just maybe, next year you can get the help you so desperately need). I worry how to spread my time fairly between all of twenty-four of you, when there are seven who need me to be constantly by their side.

I worry that what I can do for you each day may not be enough anymore. I worry that none of you may hope to be a teacher like I did at your age because of all the negative things you may have been hearing lately. I still believe that being a teacher is the best job in the world, it's just that things are getting a lot harder these days, for me and for you. I am so lucky to get to work with all of you each and every day. It brings me to tears every time I have to say goodbye in June. I can only hope that you bring with you the skills, passion and enthusiasm for learning you have now into your next grade and throughout your life. You may become doctors, lawyers, CEO's, artists, or even politicians one day, and I will know that your amazing journey started right here-at school.
It sure is a big responsibility teachers have when you enter our rooms, but it's a responsibility we embrace with all of our hearts. You are "our kids" and we only want what's best for you. Dr. Seuss taught us that "unless someone cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not." So now a whole lot of teachers who care a whole awful lot, are caring in a different way than we are used to. But unfortunately, now words like "lockout" are forced into your vocabulary. I know it's not on our word wall-I'm sorry. I'm sorry I haven't been able to give you any of that one-on-one time at lunch, or watch you create your latest rainbow loom creation out our classroom door at recess, and I'm sorry that we had to cancel our field trip next week. It breaks my heart. But what will break my heart even more is if nothing's going to change for you.

I've done everything I can for you, but now it's time for some others to start caring about you as well. Caring about your education, your future. I know if they came here to meet you they would feel the same as I do. They would see how precious you are, how hard you're working. They would see that you are our future, and most of all, an enormous responsibility.
Since we can't, maybe it's time for someone else to take a field trip...
Love always,

Your Grade One Teacher - Alycia Soukeroff

Helen Gorman Elementary i

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