Inspired by Kovacic's example, members of the Teacher Leaders Network daily discussion group set about writing thank-you notes and letters of recommendation of their own. A selection will appear today at the Teacher Magazine website. The rest, which we are sharing here, will be linked to the Teacher article. We encourage you to offer a thank you or recommendation letter of your own!
Tayor Ross is a young first-grade teacher in Birmingham, Alabama. She serves on the Governor’s Teacher Quality Commission and is featured in multimedia that demonstrates state teaching quality standards.
Dear Mrs. Gaffney-Hsu,
When I entered your English class in ninth grade, it was like a dream come true. You were intelligent, thought-provoking, and interesting. You asked us questions that forced us to consider opinions and beliefs outside of ourselves. You helped me recognize a deep appreciation for writing that I didn't know existed. On a personal level, you began to invest in me as a student and friend. Your commitment to my learning, my confidence, and my overall well-being was a testament to your character. So much, in fact, that I remained a student of yours in the Theatre Department for two more years, choosing to stay behind the curtain with props and directing.
I will never forget the many hours we spent after school and on weekends in rehearals and preparations, but mostly I remember how most of us were dedicated because it meant we could share more time with you. You encouraged me to always expect more from myself, to be honest and compassionate when dealing with others, and to use my gifts and talents to make the world a better place. As a student in your classroom, I never dreamed I would end up in the same profession as you..but in all honesty, I don't think I would have if you hadn't shown me the impact one teacher can have. Thank you for being the teacher you are -- and were -- to students who needed you the most.
Cossondra George teaches seventh grade mathematics and social studies in rural Michigan. Her article for new teachers, “Taming the Dragon of Classroom Chaos,” is a perennial favorite at Teacher Magazine.
Kelly Kovacic inspired me to write this "letter of recommendation" for Mrs. Fair, my own 7th grade math teacher. During my years of school, I had many wonderful teachers who touched me in personal ways, serving to create the “me” of today who now teaches middle school. However, of all those teachers, Mrs. Fair stands out as the one who made the most significant difference in my life. When she came to our junior high -- young, pretty, in her impeccable clothes -- all of the girls looked up to her, wanting to be like her some day. She always looked the part of the perfect teacher, and best of all, she smelled wonderful! We were entranced from the start.
Once we got past being mesmerized by her picture perfect appearance, we discovered this wonderful, soft spoken, caring, kind, patient, guiding person who pushed us further than we'd ever been pushed before. Math had always been mundane, something I had done with rote patience, a task to be completed. But with Mrs Fair, math became exciting, engaging, a subject that made my mind twist and turn, thinking about concepts in a new way. I was hooked, forever hooked on math!
Even when I was struggling, she encouraged me. When I was confused, she believed in me. When I wanted to give up, she pushed me harder. Seventh grade was a turning point for me. I learned how to be a student, how to experience success through unconditional teaching. Mrs. Fair was the reason. And the reason I would someday stand in front of 7th graders, trying to impart the same skills to them in the way she did to me.