To Whom It May Concern…

To Whom It May Concern;

For 23 years, I have given my all.  I have worked tirelessly for students that didn’t appreciate the efforts.  Twenty-three years of lesson plans and grading papers.  Twenty-three years of providing supplies for students that didn’t have any.  Twenty-three years of making sure there was food in my cabinet just in case that young man didn’t have anything to eat.

When I decided to become a teacher, I was only 5 years old.  I didn’t know what teaching really was.  I only knew something deep inside me told me I had to teach.  After all these years, I ask myself why I continue to do this job when clearly there are huge, unsolved issues that get in my way. Twenty-three years and for what?

Oh, yeah…

  • For that moment when a kindergartner realized how to spell his name.
  • For the little boy that learned to read a map just so he could show me where his family went on vacation.
  • For that young lady that was the last to learn her times tables.
  • For the student that uncurled his fingers and now is holding down a job.
  • For the young man that discovered a love of writing.  He isn’t rich today, but he does work as a musician, singing his own songs.
  • For the countless students over the years that didn’t realize what I was teaching was the foundation for their future careers.
  • For those parents that didn’t know how to help their children. Those parents that listened and took control of their home.
  • For those administrators that walked into my room and left with the knowledge that I truly cared for my students.
  • “Will you help me, even though I am not in your class?”
  • “Is this how I do this?”
  • “Will you sign my yearbook?”
  • “I get it now, thanks!” (Best Teacher Appreciation gift — EVER!)
  • For the parent that got very upset with me because I moved into another area of the school.  She had just found out her son wouldn’t be in my class the following year.
  • For the parent that called a parent conference the year BEFORE her son came into my class.  “I’ve heard that you are really mean and tough.  My son needs someone that will understand and work with him.”
  • For the same parent at her son’s graduation, “I am so glad he had you as a teacher.  You held him accountable and helped him grow.  You’ve always been there when he needed you.”

When I was 5 I didn’t know what I was getting into.  I didn’t know that these years would fly by.  I didn’t know my heart would break when they said good-bye at the end of the year.  Graduation is so wonderously painful. I send my babies out into the world, hoping I did enough to provide them a foundation to build upon.  As students move in and out of my classroom, they leave a part of themselves with me.  I am never the same teacher I was the day before.  Each May or June I’ve said good bye to my students.  Each August, I get butterflies in my stomach on the night before the first day of school.  I hope that never leaves.

So, to that teacher that feels a need to publicly resign with a vile letter listing all the things wrong with education, I say good bye.  You clearly didn’t have a true connection with your students or the enormousness of the tasks you undertook when you entered this noble profession.  Your belief that listing the obvious issues with education will actually fix something is an amazing indicator of exactly why you are leaving.  I wish you well.  I hope you find a career to fuel your passions.  Teaching fuels mine.  I am working one student at a time.  I believe that is where I can do the most good.

Forgive me if I don’t cry over your resignation.  I apologize for not stopping what I am doing to hand you a tissue.  My students need me.

Sincerely,

Tammy Neil

TEACHER — and proud of it!

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