To my third grade public school teacher
By Amy Lynn
Dear Mrs. Elderkin,
I turned 8 the year that I was in your class. I cried a lot. Grown-ups yelled at me for it. You never did. When that thin newspaper weight brown writing paper made the skin on my hands feel like someone lit a fire in betwixt the top of my brain and my skull, I screamed and cried, unsure how to tell you or anyone else what I was experiencing. You were frustrated, I remember knowing that everyone was frustrated, but most especially my mom. But you never raised your voice, you never tried to tell me what I was feeling was wrong. You found the best solution you could, and I was shown where lotion could be found in the bottom drawer of your desk.
Before IEPs or differentiated lesson plans were topics of obsession, you made your classroom a haven for everyone, not because there was a law telling you it was necessary. No, you did it because we were your children, and you loved us all. You gave me extra work, and convinced me it was a bonus. You challenged me.
Now that I work in an elementary school, I carry your lessons with me. I look for ways to accommodate the students who cross my path without judgment, without telling them what they are feeling or how they are expressing it is wrong. I ask why. I ask what they want. I ask how we can fix it. I can only hope that I make a fraction of the impact that you did.