Thursday, May 21, 2015

Open Letter to My Room 216'er Freshman

Dear former Room 216’er and class of 2019,

You’re about to become a freshman and I just wanted to let you know that I’m still rooting for you.!

I think that the middle school years are the toughest school years to get through, they certainly were for me. High school is really the time where you learn about yourself and what things interest you. High school helps you lay a foundation for the 5-10 years after graduation or at least starts you down the path of your choosing. Choose wisely.

My 10th grade teacher was one of my favorite all-time teachers. She made, yes made, me read George Orwell’s Animal Farm for her class. It changed my life. The study of that book made me realize that even though I was fairly smart, I wasn’t really working all that hard and I needed to change. I don’t remember her name, but I will never forget what she taught me.

I truly believe that grades don’t matter much. I’d much rather have kids focus on learning. It makes me happy when a student wants to learn about something because they’re curious about something. When they want to learn and understand something, not just because it will get them a better grade. It’s not your fault. We, the adults in your life, have trained you to chase the letter. We give you ribbons, clothes, video games, and cash for good grades. Nobody ever gives you recognition for learning something hard and doing your best. It’s a shame. Grades don’t matter, until high school that is. The organizations and institutions that will let you in or keep you out after graduation put a heavy emphasis on the grades you receive, not the person you can become. Don’t coast. Do your best. Everyday, every assignment. Please keep your eye on your grade point, but make sure you’re learning as well. I hope that makes sense.

Worry about the learning and not the letter.

You’re going to be surrounded by kids that are making choices that diminish their spirit or potential over the next four years. Stay away from them. You don’t owe anyone a thing if they are only going to tear you down, hold you back, or put you in a bad place.

Erase the meanness in your life and replace it with kindness.

I mean that with all my heart.

I hope I get a glimpse of what you’ll become over the next four years, but even if I don’t, I want you to know that I think you are terrific and capable of great things. You and your class of 6th graders hold a special place in my heart. I loved being part of your personal story for those ten months. Always know that I believe in you and that you matter.

You have greatness inside you. Find a way to bring it out.


From your 6th grade teacher, all my best.


Eric Johnson - LaSalle Elementary
Twitter: @YourKidsTeacher

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