A Letter to My First Grade Teacher
Updated: Feb 29
Working on my M.Ed. had given me many opportunities to reflect on my own education and the teachers who influenced me. As I look back, I realize that I was most likely one of the students who was talked about in meetings when teachers brought up students to be concerned about. It wasn't the academics that I struggled with, it was my home life that most likely made teachers keep an eye on me. I don't have memories of when I learned what academics at what grade-level. I truly don't remember assignments, or tests, or projects, or doing homework. I have other memories of other things.
I wrote a letter to one of my teachers who took the time to see what was in my heart and helped me work through it in her own special way ...
Dear Mrs. Patsick,
Do you remember me, Lisa Marie, the little red-headed girl in your 1st-grade class, a long time ago? Your name was Miss Christensen when the school year started, but you got married mid-year and changed your name to Mrs. Patsick. That was the year I was in your class.
I loved you immediately. You were kind, creative, gentle, fun, young, and pretty. I must admit to you that I don't remember the academics we studied that year, but I do remember loving you, and you loving me.
Do you remember the day when we were all sitting on the floor at your feet while you read us the book about a boy with the pet chicken? The story told of a wonderful friendship between the boy and the chicken and I suddenly felt myself longing for a pet chicken too. At the end of the story, however, the chicken died and the boy had to learn how to live without the chicken.
Do you remember what I did when you finished the story and closed the book?
The other students were looking at me funny. You pulled me to the front of the group and hugged me and asked if you could share with the class why I was crying. I nodded yes and then you explained to everyone that my dad had passed away just a few months earlier. You explained that what the boy in the story felt about his chicken dying was a tiny little bit of what I was feeling.
Honestly, as a teacher myself now, I would be hesitant to do what you did. Maybe you were hesitant, I don't know, but it was exactly the right thing to do. In that tender moment, you taught me that my sadness was normal and expected and that it was okay to talk about it in front of others. In fact, standing in front of the class that day and sharing that my dad had died, was a big turning point in my healing. It helped immensely.
Did you know that would happen? I've wondered about that over the years and I think you probably didn't. I think you were probably just as mystified at what to do as I would have been. You just followed your teacher gut ... which turned out to be right for me.
My mom was busy with a very active 2-year-old son and a brand new baby girl and there wasn't much time to make sure I was okay. But I had you and you checked in with me daily and helped me laugh and let me cry and gave me other things to think about and learn and you loved me through my grieving.
Thank you Mrs. Patsick. I will forever be grateful for your kindness and love that year. I was never able to share that with you because you developed cancer the next year and died very soon after that. My mom took me to your funeral and I cried again, but that's okay because you taught me it was okay.
I love you Mrs. Patsick. I hope I can be there for students the way you were there for me.
Love, The little red-headed girl