I am so touched by this story, I have to share it.
Brenna Martini received a copy of Dr. Suess’ Oh, the Places You’ll Go from her dad on the day she graduated from high school, and she was astounded to find within its pages hand-written notes from nearly every teacher, coach and principal she’d had in the past 13 years. Her dad carefully collected every signed, dated inscription in chronological order to create a cherished record not only of his child’s progress through school, but also her impact on those who helped shepherd her through.
If I had a preschool-age child, I’d scramble to get a book just like this started for him or her right now. For a kid who has long since started school, I’d begin with the current school year and go forward. How precious those words of appreciation, affection and encouragement would be to them all through their lives. Teaching is fundamentally a labor of love, and the love that teachers have for their subjects, their vocation and their students moves this world forward generation after generation.
I have a few notes from my teachers here and there in my various school yearbooks, such as this one, from my favorite high school teacher, Dorothy Mebane, who taught biology (which was, naturally, my favorite class, according to the notes I made in the back of my sophomore yearbook).
No matter how old I get, I will always feel a puff of pride when I read those words.
I’d love to have notes from my first-grade teacher, Mrs. Womer, or my fourth-grade teacher, Mrs. Kemnitzer, or my sixth-grade teacher, Mrs. Collier. They’ve all long since retired from teaching and I don’t know where they live now. I hope they would remember me if we ever happened to run into each other, and maybe they’d say something like “you were a great kid and I really enjoyed having you in my class.” But boy, what I wouldn’t give to have that in writing from their own hand at the time I was that kid. And if there were school photos in there (taken at the time) of me, and of the people who wrote, what an amazing treasure it would be.
Stories get lost, word by word, unless we take the time to write them down. Words and pictures compose the records of our lives that endure long after memory fails.
If you have kids or know a kid, I hope you will consider creating a book like Brenna’s for them. Everyone involved in the project will thank you.