Several years ago, around Thanksgiving, I began sending letters or emails to people who have made a difference in mine and my children’s life over the past year. It was my way of saying “Thank you.” Over the years I have written to my daughter’s flute teacher, my son’s swim coach, my son’s track coach. I have thanked teachers my children haven’t seen in years, letting them know that they, and the lessons they taught my children, are not forgotten. These letters are my way of saying, “I am grateful that you entered our lives.”
This year, I wrote a letter to several special education teachers from years past. I am posting it here. If you have a teacher, coach, mentor or other person who has made a difference in your child’s life, consider reaching out and letting them know.
Dear Special Education Teachers,
In the spirit of the Thanksgiving holiday, I want to say, “Thank you.” In the past you taught my child and now, years later, the academic and life lessons you imparted are still with him. He still remembers when you showed him (so he would understand), how to add several numbers together and how you patiently taught him to sound out words. But, what he remembers most is that someone cared not just about his ability to read or do math, but about him, as a person.
Being a Special Education can’t be an easy job. I know you are in your classroom early every day and stay after school. I know you spend time on the weekends trying to keep up with paperwork so you don’t take up time that you can spend with your students. I know you make phonecalls to parents before and after school and are always willing to meet with a parent when concerns arise. I have seen the stacks of paper you have at the beginning of the year, the IEPs for each of your students, that you read through because you have to adapt to each IEP to be sure each student is receiving the specialized attention he or she needs. I am sure that I have left out many more responsibilities that are placed on your shoulders.
Beyond these “administrative” type tasks, comes the job of teaching. You need to understand how each child’s disability affects their learning, no matter what the disability. You have to be prepared for children who are in a wheelchair, can’t communicate well, have cognitive disabilities and much more. You must be able to address these needs…and you do so each and every day.
It is your job to teach academics and in your classroom you have children of varying ages and abilities. And yet, somehow, you manage to teach every child. Every one leaves your classroom at the end of the school year ahead of where they were in the beginning of the year. That is because of you, your dedication and your commitment.
Besides teaching academics, which could have taken every minute of every day, you managed to squeeze in time to teach about life. You helped children learn to share, to be kind and to treat one another with respect.
When we met, for conferences or just because you wanted to give me an update, I never heard you talk about any of your students in any way other than “My kids.” You connected with each and every one. I know because my child came home from school each day feeling loved and respected. He looked up to you, wanted to complete his homework so you would be proud of him. He valued you because you valued him.
During this season of Thanksgiving, let me say, “Thank you.” You have made a difference in my son’s life. We will always be in debt to you.
With All My Thanks,
Published On: November 18, 2014