I have been leaving my children in the capable care of amazing individuals since my oldest was 9-weeks-old. Both schools my children have attended are led by the most inspiring people, and they have had the most incredible teachers, whose number one priority is keeping them safe. This letter is dedicated to the teachers, staff, and administrators at both of those wonderful schools, to whom I am indebted every day. This letter is also dedicated to all teachers, staff, and administrators across the country, to whom all parents are indebted every day.
We leave our hearts with you each morning and pray to pick them back up each afternoon, knowing you’ll do your very best in the hours between.
Last Thursday, when I picked my son up at preschool. You were there by the classroom door, as usual, serving as the official gatekeeper between the chaos in the class and the chaos in the hallway. You called to my son, letting him know I had arrived. You smiled at me, and prompted him to proudly announce that he’d had a “sunshine” day. We shared a smile as he walked by you, saying goodbye and waving. You reached out to gently tousle his hair. A parental gesture, so natural, so familiar. We made eye contact, and I had to say something – I had to let you know that I’ve been thinking about you, that I am thankful for you, that my heart spends every weekday in your classroom – in the body of a
sometimes almost always ornery four-year-old boy.
I said, “Hey, thanks. Thanks for keeping him safe. Thanks for taking care of our kids.”
I will never forget the look in your eye as you said to me reassuringly, “I have a place for them. It’s a safe place. I can lock the door. It’s the safest place I could find for our kids. We’ll take care of them.” You had called them OUR kids, and I knew you meant it. The look in your eye was fierce, protective, and a little vulnerable. It hit me like a punch in the stomach.
You have a place for the nine three- and four-year-olds – a place to hide them – OUR children. A place with you and your dear co-teacher, where you two can and will do everything in your power to keep them safe. A place you’ll guard OUR kids, if someone decides to take their anger, hate, or illness out on them and you.
As we drove home, I couldn’t stop thinking about you. I know you love to teach – your passion for the insanity that is a classroom full of children with curious minds, BIG emotions, and more questions than could be answered in a thousand years is obvious. You and your co-teacher have patience I can only summon after coffee, and you put everything into shaping your students into strong, productive, contributing humans. I also know you love OUR children; you genuinely know and care for each life that passes through the door of your classroom. I also know that they love you. They respect you and trust you. They belong to you, and you to them.
We as parents leave them with you, because we know you’ll keep them safe. You’ll help them through anything from a scraped knee or a hurt feeling, to things much more sinister. We know you’ve had the training, done the research, and practiced all the drills.
We know you’ll be there, we know you’ll take care of them, we know you’ll do your best, because they’re OUR children.
I want you to know that just like they are OUR children, you are OUR teacher. You are not just part of our children’s lives, you’re part of our family’s lives. It makes me just as angry and afraid and frustrated that someone would hurt you, as them. You’re there every day, teaching, guiding, and keeping our children safe. You deserve a safe place to do that. You and OUR children all deserve to spend your days singing songs, bandaging those skinned knees, learning ABC’s, and laughing – without being afraid.
I cannot adequately express how grateful I am for you. I am grateful that I know our hearts swell with the same pride in OUR children. I’m grateful for your dedication, wisdom, understanding, kindness, and grace. I am grateful we have the same desire to keep our children safe, to watch them grow, to help them become whomever they’re destined to be. I am grateful that you still get up each morning and aren’t letting fear deter you from your work. I am grateful that you are part of our family’s life.
I am grateful that I can leave my heart with you each morning, and pick it back up each afternoon, knowing you’ll do your very best in the hours between.
Thank you endlessly.