The Letter I Share With Students On the First Day of School

Dear Students,

Welcome to your classroom, a place where I want you to always feel safe and welcome. As your teacher, it is my job to respect you, to care about you, and to encourage you. It is also my job to challenge you, to expect the best out of you, and to do everything I can to put you on the path to success in your life. I plan on doing all these things to the best of my ability.

A lot of students ask me why I became a teacher. Nonno Joe, my grandfather, was probably the most important teacher in my life. Nonno Joe didn’t speak English very well, but that didn’t stop him from delivering long lectures to me after our Sunday family lunches. Nonno Joe’s speeches typically focused on two subjects: 1) The difficulties and challenges he’d endured in his life; and 2) The importance of education.

Nonno Joe had very little schooling himself; he broke his back as a construction worker and was forced into retirement before he turned 40. For Nonno Joe, education represented the only path to success. He’d often say things like, “The school is important,” “No forget the school,” “If you want to be a man, you need the school,” and “People who don’t go to the school are the bums.” I believed him and I took school seriously because of it.

Education was everything to Nonno Joe. Education meant money. Education meant status. Education meant truth. Education meant freedom. And he expected his grandchildren to value education as much as he did. He had very high expectations of us — and that’s something I believe all teachers need to have for their students.

And so, this year, you can expect that I will have very high expectations for each and every one of you. I’ll expect you to be on time for class, to work hard, to behave maturely, to respect your peers, to think for yourself, to challenge yourself, to pursue your goals, and to be accountable for your own actions. I take my job as teacher very seriously and I expect you to take your job as students just as seriously.

Once again, welcome to your classroom. I hope you’re ready for a fantastic year.

Sincerely,

Mr. Ursi

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