If there was one thing I wanted to teach you, it wasn’t English. If there was one thing I wanted to demonstrate, it wasn’t MLA style. If there was one thing I wanted to show you, it wasn’t a textbook.
No, teaching — to me — is not something that derives from the Georgia Performance Standards. It isn’t a lecture, a quiz or a literary circle. It isn’t a standardized test or preparing for the SAT. Maybe all those things matter, but what matters most is this: my class isn’t about grades, but about relationships.
I agree wholly with the saying, “Students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” I am not an award-winning journalist, or a best-selling novelist (yet), but I can tell you this: what you learned in my class matters. Not just because it’s important to be literate, but because I hope you learned something other than how to effectively create a ToonDoo.
I hope you leave with confidence — in yourself and in your abilities. Each and every one of you have potential. It is your choice to work hard, overcome obstacles and step up to that potential. Or, to play it safe and harbor a constant “what if…” in the back of your mind.
From this point forward, you will not have someone holding your hand; you will not have someone nagging you about missing work, going to school on time or getting to bed early. You will be solely responsible for your actions. Don’t make excuses. In fact, don’t have a reason to make excuses. Prove your teachers wrong. Prove your friends wrong — show us that you can do it alone. I dare you.
I know I act like i’m really excited for summer to begin, but I know that once it does, the school year will end, and you will go with it. It breaks my heart a little every time — especially for those of you with whom I shared a real conversation, a burst of laughter, or an honest confrontation. You all have a special place in my heart.
I ask you to consider Ralph Waldo Emerson’s challenge: “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” I have already said what I didn’t want to teach you this year, here is what I do: be perfectly content with being yourself.
I’ll leave you with this: too many people find their identities in imitating others. Don’t be that person. Always be true to yourself, and lose the things in your life that cause you to stray. After all, you only live once — might as well live it your way.
God bless you,