An Open Letter to my 8th Graders
Dear 8th Grade,
Thank you. Thank you for allowing me to be your teacher. Thank you for loving me unconditionally, and forgiving me freely. Ours has not been a relationship where I have been only a teacher and you have been a student, but vice versa – you were my teachers, and daily I was your student. I was challenged to learn, study, and grow in my knowledge of people, places, and things. I cannot be grateful enough that I was given the privilege of knowing each and every one of you.
At the beginning of this year I told you that what I love about teaching 8th grade is that I am given the gift of letting you go. As much as I would like to hold on, and keep you here, letting you go means that you are ready. My telling the world that you are ready to move on requires saying goodbye. I have never been fond of or liked goodbyes, so I will say, “Fantastic human beings who captured my heart, you will always have first place as my students. No other group will compare to the Class of 2018. A class full of spunk, personality, and individuals who will fill the world as spotlights of good. Shine, beautiful people, shine bright!”
You are always building your brain capacity. Education is not something that just happens in school, learning happens everywhere. Remember Martin Luther King Jr. taught from a jail cell, Cesar Chavez dropped out of school at 15 and learned while being a migrant worker, Justin Dart Jr. considered himself a “super-loser,” until he lost use of his legs due to polio. Women including Claudette Colvin and Rosa Parks did their best work by sitting down, others such as Shirley Chisholm and Dolores Huerta by standing up. These people were activists and organizers cut from very different cloths. What made them similar is that they all found their cause. Find your cause. Find your why, and you will learn, and teach others, and in turn have an impact.
History is the story of us. It is the story of people and power. Continue to ask yourself critical questions, “Whose voice matters? What stories do we tell? Who tells the stories?” This year you explored the truth of the African Proverb, “Until the Story of the hunt is told by the Lion, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.” You asked if heroes and villains can be one and the same. You disputed facts that people said were indisputable. You were noble-minded, fair, and worked in pursuit of justice. I charge you 8th grade to always keep moving forward, go higher, and dig deeper. You are the people this world needs – men and women full of integrity, kindness, respect, curiosity, and resilience.
There are 19 things I never want you to forget:
I love each of you. I want your best. I cannot wait to hear what you are up to. Class of 2018, I expect GREAT things.
Ms. St. Jean
2/27/2023 01:26:55 am
I enjoyyed reading this
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Ms. St. Jean
Native New Yorker teaching and living the middle school life, using this site to keep it 100. My students are the embodiment of joy.