Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Meaningful Boost of Morale

At the end of the 2011-2012 school year, I sent out a school-wide e-mail to all faculty, staff, and students informing them about my decision to leave and teach elsewhere. I received many responses wishing me well, mostly from students, which kind of made me sad as the kids really were the only reason I stayed to teach a third year at that school.

I recently received an e-mail from Andy, the ideal transfer school student in my opinion. Besides just being highly intelligent and articulate, Andy has a very interesting background and story, e.g. he dropped out of high school for a semester to skateboard in Germany. Unfortunately for Andy, the NYC Department of Education has strict guidelines on how many classes and what types of classes should "count" on a transcript towards graduation. So even though Andy had already completed higher levels of math in his prior high school (e.g. Geometry, Trigonometry), his transcript was still missing an Algebra credit: a mandatory credit he would need in order to graduate. As a result, he was placed in my Algebra class, but he really should have been in a calculus class, which my school did not offer.

About a week into the trimester, I realized Andy was going to get seriously bored; perhaps to the point where he would start cutting class. Cutting class is a dangerous disease transfer school students suffer from, and if they can figure out how to justify cutting one class, cutting other classes becomes easier. So instead of simply giving him "differentiated" material (i.e. same material, harder shit), I simply made an effort to talk to him. You know, about his time in Germany, his future plans, his likes/dislikes, etc. We had great conversation, and I realized the kid had a significant amount of potential. So I told him that.

Here's the e-mail he sent me this summer:
from: Andy Cornvallis (
to: Yo Mista! (
date: Mon, Jul 16, 2012 at 12:02 PM
subject: Hello Friend!
Hey Mista! It's Andy even though I know you know that already. I mean look at the damn email address right? I wanted to just say thank you for the support you showed me. Honestly you made me realize how much I could do without me even knowing. Simple things I never understood such as Radicals for example, you made it clear to me. You are a great teacher and I consider you one of the most intelligent and funniest guys I know. I consider you a friend and wish to keep in contact every now and then as I hope you do and do not mind. 
I also wanted to inform you I am looking into the college thing and taking your advice. I realize I can take advantage of the opportunity and I should. I am also on a job hunt right now and wanted to ask if I may use you as a reference because although you are funny and cool as hell, you are a professional person when it comes down to it. Anyway I'm going to end this email now as I'm extremely tired. It sucks that you can't teach another semester with us! I wish you and your lady a great summer. Respond whenever you can. Thanks for everything Mista =) 
What an incredible, meaningful boost of morale. Thank you, Andy.

1 comment:

nh said...

store these notes away now, but keep them handy for those rough days that are bound to come up once in a while! it'll make you remember what it's all really about!