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Challenge: Class of 2020

Dear Preschool teacher

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Dear Preschool Teacher,

They say “you never have a second chance to make a first impression”. I repeated these words over and over in my head, last summer, as the days passed and the countdown began toward the first day of school for our son.

We were worried. Worried his willful nature and impulsiveness would forever cast a shadow over the wonderful aspects of his personality during that first impression. Fearful, he would be the student you would secretly exhale with a sigh a relief when not hearing his voice call out “here”, during morning attendance.

When we entered this school year, in addition to our anxiety, we expected a preschool experience similar to the one living in our memories of our older boys. We expected he would learn his letters and numbers. We expected, with time, he would find his friends. We didn’t realize spending 5 mornings a week in your classroom would cause him to grow and mature more than any one of the 5 years since he entered this world. We certainly didn’t expect an unscheduled, premature end to the school year or the lost opportunity for a fitting goodbye to the last of our family’s little boy years, before our youngest heads to Kindergarten.

We never expected you would drive to our house to drop off schoolwork at our front door. We never expected the excitement we would witness on a little boy’s face as he waved from behind a glass door, while you stood in our driveway. We never dreamed that a pinwheel you personalized and left for him to enjoy, would be proudly displayed to our family and friends, while also keeping it safely beside him every day, even as he slept.

We believed we were seasoned parents with nothing left to learn, but very soon he exposed all the flaws quietly waiting amidst our arrogance. While we concerned about his progress and his weaknesses, you always chose to focus on his kind spirit and empathy. We never expected that you would always choose to see his heart first and his shortcomings second. We expected you would teach him how to change for the world, yet instead, you chose to the lay the groundwork and began teaching him how to change the world.

You not only taught our son, you taught us also.

You reminded us that learning happens every day, all around us and should not always be measured by traditional standards. You reminded us that learning happens differently for all children, at different times and just requires a little patience. To appreciate the sum of his combined traits because they each contribute to the total of his uniqueness. You never pushed him too far or too hard, you encouraged him by holding his hand and gently leading him in the right direction. You offered him grace in abundance and always waited patiently for him to join you, in his own time.

It is true, you never have a second chance to make a first impression. How grateful we will always be that his first impression of school included you as his teacher. How grateful we are that your lasting impression will now serve as the basis by which we will measure our expectations for all his future teachers. May they be willing to fill the big shoes you have left for them.

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