I remember when you first found out there was such a thing as school, the questions you had, the dreams you came up with for that place that mommy would go to every day. When you came the first time to my classroom and you stood there looking around declaring that you couldn’t wait to come here yourself one day, I was so happy. That if school meant books, toys, and markers, you were ready and could you start now? Then I had to hold you back, explain that your day would come, faster than you ever thought.
And now it’s time. Tomorrow, daddy will follow your bus as you get ready to enter kindergarten. I can’t be there because it is my first day of school too, 130 7th graders will be greeting me, but know that while I am not there to send you off, I know you are ready, even if I am having a hard time letting go of my little girl. But before tomorrow, a few thoughts from me, you know how I always talk too much.
I hope you stay you. That you continue to find the magic in small things. That you continue to be proud of what you accomplish and not because someone told you too, but because you believe that what you did was worth pride. I hope your skin gets tougher, that every perceived slight will not make scars, that you will figure out when something is worth your tears and when it is not. That you will find your place with friends, not toss your heart so overwhelmingly at every new person you meet, and yet don’t forget to keep putting it out there, giving everybody a chance.
I hope you continue to create. That the world will still seem full of things to make, ideas to have, and dreams to dream. That you will sing as loud as you can when there is a chance, and listen to the words being said when needed. That you will keep your chin up and start to look people in the eyes more when you speak. Where you look matters sometimes as much as what you say.
I hope school is what you dreamed it to be; a place for exploration, for growing, for learning. That you will not have to sit still all hours of the day, or be silent for such long periods of time that you forget your own voice. I hope that school becomes a place where you feel you belong. Where others see how big your heart is. Where others see that your wild spirit is not a defiant one but one that wants to explore, to create, to question. I hope your teacher has time to listen to the big stories you tell, that she gets you, that she becomes your favorite teacher. I hope school nurtures who you are, not tries to stifle it to make you conform, but rather lets you express yourself in your unique ways.
I hope tomorrow starts an incredible part of your life. That tomorrow is truly the beginning of an adventure that you cannot wait to go on every day. That school becomes your favorite place to go away from home. That you cannot wait to get there. And if isn’t, then I hope you have the courage to speak up too. The courage to tell your dad and me so that we can help. You are too important to us and to the world, and your time is too precious to be wasted. But most of all, I hope you love it. I hope you remember why you wanted to go all of those years ago. I hope you think of how amazing school is when the day has been tough and you would rather stay home. I hope you stay you, but even better.
I am a passionate teacher in Wisconsin, USA, who has taught 4, 5th, and 7th grade. Proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children. I have no awards or accolades except for the lightbulbs that go off in my students’ heads every day. First book “Passionate Learners – Giving Our Classrooms Back to Our Students” can be purchased now from Powerful Learning Press. Second book“Empowered Schools, Empowered Students – Creating Connected and Invested Learners” can be pre-ordered from Corwin Press now. Follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.