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Donna Roof, teacher of English in Indiana for more than 30 years, sent the following message to her class:
Dear Snider High School Class of 2016:
As I reflect on my career of over 30+ years in the classroom, many thoughts and images flash into my mind about what it has meant to me to be a teacher. My decision to retire was not easy. Teaching is much more than my career; it is my passion. Your class has helped me once again to remember why it has been. I honestly can say that there is no other career I would rather have. I simply love what I do. Believe me when I say you are students who make it easy to stay and hard to leave.
So what have all of these years meant? Quite simply, they mean so very much. When I see you, I don’t see test scores and data. I see unique, young people who have their whole lives ahead of them. Each of you has so much potential. You have lives that are more complicated than I can ever begin to imagine. You overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles and are successful because you meet your challenges. As you pursue your dreams and goals, I dare you “to color outside the lines.”
I was fortunate to have had so many teachers who instilled in me the love of learning. If I have done the same with you, then we all have been successful. Everyday I entered my classroom believing I am a master teacher, for if I didn’t hold true to that claim, I shouldn’t be in this profession.
I’ve learned that schools are families. We laugh, we cry, we whine, we bicker, we get frustrated. However, even though we are not related by blood, we are related by a sense of community, by a sense of our common experience, and by a sense of our common humanity.
What have you learned from your experience here at school? Has it been numbers and equations, facts and hypotheses, or papers and projects? Have you learned how to share that knowledge with others? Have you learned to be more tolerant with others? Have you learned kindness, consideration, and compassion? Have you learned what it takes to have and to be a friend? Have you learned anything about truth or justice or honor or decency? Have you learned anything about loyalty or love? What kind of foundation have you begun to build while you were here?
While none of the above lessons will raise your scores on any of your exams, are these not the qualities that school is all about? Is this now what life is all about? The individual lessons that I have taught and that you may or may not have learned are not what is important. What is important is how you will apply what you have learned. Despite all that comes our way, working together, we persevere and succeed because that’s what we do.
As a teacher, I am in the business of helping you to grow in every way, whether it be academically, emotionally, or personally. As most of you are counting down the number of days until you get into the “real world,” don’t forget that each of the goals, the obstacles, the frustrations, the joys, and the sadness you’ve experienced here all add up to who and what you are and will become. For you see, this is what is important; this is what counts; this is what matters.
As you enter this newest chapter of your lives, all I can say is that our business here at Snider has been good. Even though I shall miss having you in class, I am thankful that I was able to spend this part of my career with you. No matter where you are, what you do, or what your age is, you will always be “my kids.” I will always look at my years of teaching with fondness, and as I say farewell to all of you, I also say thank you for what all of you have given me.
“Follow Your Bliss!”