A Letter to My Students at the End of a Challenging Year

Dear Students,

Our year together is coming to a close, and it is such a bittersweet ending.

One on hand, I am glad the year is finally coming to an end. This year ranks among one of the most challenging of my teaching career. Some of the challenges were simply growing pains for our school, while others were the result of a confluence of responsibilities that quickly merged from strong streams to a raging river with more than a few waterfalls. I couldn’t have predicted how difficult these obligations would be to navigate, and often they swept me away, struggling to keep my head above water and grasping for something to hold on to. So often this year I felt overwhelmed, frustrated, and exhausted, and despite my best efforts, I couldn’t always keep this from you.

But you were my life preserver.

When you saw that I was struggling, you pulled me up with smiles and concern. More importantly, every day, you made me thankful for your engagement in learning. You could be loud and obnoxious, and you definitely weren’t always perfect angels, but you were also insightful, witty, and respectful, and you loved to see how many shout-outs you could bargain for. No matter how chaotic everything else was, I found peace in knowing I could close the door to my classroom and shut out everything but the very important people in front of me.

In my classroom this year, I saw the shy students grow comfortable, I saw the doubtful students grow confident, and I saw the struggling students improve significantly. I challenged you, and you exceeded my expectations. I made you work hard, but we also laughed and had fun. You shared with me the exciting things in your life, you came to me for advice about your classes and your future, and this year, so many of you took the time to personally express your appreciation for me and my class, something that high school teachers especially don’t always hear.

You were my daily reminder that the struggle is worth it.

The truth is, that I couldn’t be that teacher if I didn’t have such amazing students, so it is important for me to also take the time to say:

I appreciate you too.

I have told so many around me that, while this year has been grueling in many ways, it is hard to say I am ready for it to be over because this year I had one of the best groups of students I have ever had. And when I look back on this year, I know I’ll remember the kids I taught and the fun we had more than the difficulties I faced.

Thank you for helping me make it through this year.

And when you’re struggling with a class or an assignment next year, remember:
you got this, I have faith in you, and my door is always open.

Love always,

Ms. V

Kelly Vollmer
Kelly first moved to New Orleans to attend Tulane University, from which she earned a B.S. in Psychology and English and an M.A. in English. She quickly discovered New Orleans was the place where she had always belonged, and her high school sweetheart, Jeff, soon followed her here. They have now been married for 16 years and have two beautiful girls, Emma Jane (11) and Hannah (6), and 4 year-old pup named Ember. Kelly is a lover of all things nerdy, a proud fangirl, and she is a passionate high school English teacher.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here