I’m sorry I’m leaving you. But you have to know a few things before I go. Maybe I’ve watched too many inspirational movies and read too many books to think you might come across this one day. Or maybe I’m being selfish and thinking of two teachers who continue to change my life, simply by staying in it. I didn’t expect to like teaching kids your age. I thought you were too young. The most fun moments were when I watched you truly be young. You might forget every fact about the Revolutionary War, that’s fine. Look it up. But know a few things as you start 6th grade.
I’m not leaving you. I don’t have the skills to teach math. I just don’t. I’m working on that, and I beg you to speak up if you’re lost in any class, especially that one. I won’t just follow a teacher’s manual and then leave you to your own devices if you’re confused. I can’t. Math is cool. Reading is cool. Me pretending to know something I don’t is not.
You are at a good school, and you can make it better. People will tell you who you are, and it’s polite to listen and decide who to trust. Show everyone who you are. Just as I had days when I wasn’t the best version of myself, you will too. But I saw the best of each of you at some point. El Chapo and Steph Curry and Rihanna and even Lionel Messi are no one to try to be. You’re already here. Do something with it.
Choose your people and keep them. If they turn out to be wrong for you, to be less than kind, loyal, and respectful, waste no time in moving on. Life is not meant to do alone—not in 5th grade or 6th or high school or for grown-ups. There are more good people waiting to walk beside you as you figure things out. Walk away from the ones who don’t fit or can’t love you hard enough.
You taught me how to ask for help as much as anyone else ever did. I needed to be necessary. No amount of compliments and love from my huge support system could fix what was broken in me. You, with your backpacks and writing notebooks and even your fighting tears gave me direction. Our soccer field may have not had nets or lines, but you brought me out of a darker world into a new one out there. You gave me light no one else could.
For being distractions, investigators, listeners, learners, supporters, and protectors, I will always remember how it felt to be called Ms. Jensen the first year. Please try not to worry too much about the presidential election. You’re 11, and you understand the Bill of Rights. There is no wall unless you let there be. Kanye ‘s right about one thing-- no one man has all that power. We’re all going to be okay.