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To my students

November 7, 2020

I know many of you already know this, but I love you.

I tend to tell you that often, but I feel that today you may need to hear it a bit more than every other day I say it.  I am a big believer in overusing those three words, and don’t get me started on giving a hug when one is needed (even if I can’t right now).

I know we don’t all have the same lived experiences and that we all have different beliefs and fears and hopes and dreams associated with the election outcome.  Even though I have not lived your stories, I want you to know that I will never take for granted the sacred trust you place by sharing them with me.  You teach me new ways of looking at the world each and every day.  It sometimes feels like we are all part of one of those hidden picture puzzles and after hearing your stories, more of the picture of life – life in America – is revealed. 

In hearing both ends of the spectrum on the reasons behind your thoughts on the election, I want you to know that my ears and my heart are listening because if no one has ever told you this before, you are worth listening to.  You are amazing and your ideas for a better world bring me inspiration. Every. Single. Day.

Educators do not take an oath like physicians do, but the day I became a teacher, my life as an individual was over.  I know that some will read that and think I have lost my mind, but truth be told, there isn’t a single moment of any given day that I am not thinking about, worrying about, praying over, and hoping for you. So today, is not really different in that sense, but I see your faces, I see your worries and fears, and I hear your cries. 

For many of you, this is your first election where you were legally old enough to vote and all of the uncertainty is agonizing and frankly exhausting.  We regularly talk about COVID fatigue in class, and all the divisiveness and, frankly, general malaise of disrespect spewed about is draining.  Right now, more than ever, I want to make sure you are safe – emotionally, physically, and mentally.  We’ll get back to academics, but today – do the things that bring you joy and comfort. 

I want you to know that if I had an oath, mine would encompass all the things I currently do: cheer like crazy at your successes and big moments, push you farther than you thought you were capable because you are more talented than you know, sprinkle water on your hopes and dreams to help them grow, talk/text into the late hours because you need a campus “mom”, sit next to you while you cry, bring snacks when I can, go for walks in the fresh air, laugh with you, and bring the very best I have to offer in every class.

You know how I always say that we (the faculty and staff) are here to help and that if I don’t know the answers, I will go with you on an adventure to find them.  In that way I walk alongside you, but there are other times, where you may need a little more.  In those moments, if you need me, I will walk behind you to catch you when it feels like you are sinking.  I will be there to offer a hand up if you stumble, and I will tell you all the ways I do so every day, just so you won’t feel embarrassed.  And if the moment ever comes where you are in danger, you better believe, I will stand in front of you. I will protect you from whomever or whatever wishes you harm. 

I don’t talk about this side of my life to you much, but a few years ago, I had the opportunity to speak in my parents’ church.  I spoke about my journey through grief.  It was a moment that I will never forget because it was a huge church and I had the opportunity to talk about how our words and our actions matter on a topic nobody likes to talk about in America.  And right now, a whole lot of people aren’t willing to talk about things that make them uncomfortable, and yet, those conversations are how we bring about change.

Here’s the crazy part. The thing I remember most about that day was the bulletin handed out had some pretty amazing words.  Words so profound that I still carry them around in my bag. In some ways, I have restructured them to be my oath to you.

To all who desire to learn,

To all who want to grow,

To all who remain curious,

But also, to all who are weary and seek rest,

To all who mourn and long for comfort,

To all who feel lonely and isolated and desire fellowship,

To all who hunger and thirst for change,

To all who need to be reminded how incredible and amazing they are,

And to all who need someone to listen,

This professor opens wide her door and heart for you!

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2 Comments
  1. Nancy permalink

    I think I need to be your student right now. This is beautiful!

    Nancy

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