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Overdue Assignment

Dear Ms. Thorstrom,

I should have written this letter after I’d finished high school—to thank you for helping me through my junior year.

I remember your high expectations for our English assignments. As you pointed out, we were there to learn.

You assigned reading every day and our writing would reveal if we’d really read the book.

Within the first month I realized that you were giving us interesting books to read, and that if we gave it a chance, we’d have plenty to write about in response. It worked.

But it was you that noticed the change in me. I was still faithfully turning in my assignments and checking off my daily reading. Yet you sensed I’d lost my interest, or worse, was losing my way. You asked me to come in after school.

You didn’t ask me what was wrong. Rather, you asked me to do an additional assignment. You wanted me to write about my past—a diary from my childhood onward. It was harder than I imagined.

But like the reading books that became interesting, so did this unusual diary.

What you did Ms. Thorstrom, was to give me a chance to see how far I’d come, by going back to where I’d begun. When I finally got to my current life, it was hard, but by then, I could write about it with more understanding. It helped me.

The diary was never graded, nor did you ever mark me down for spelling or grammar. You only used your trademark handwritten smiling face to show that you’d read what I wrote and that it mattered.

You see, Ms. Thorstrom, that was what I needed—to be seen. And you did that for me—at a critical time.

I’ll always remember that diary and the healing power it had. Thank you for giving me hope—it was exactly the right assignment. You were a wonderful teacher.

Teacher Appreciation Week:


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