Monday, October 12, 2009

mrs. hammond

on the 12th day of thirty I have decided to finally write my 5th grade teacher and tell her thank you. I have wanted to find Mrs. Hammond for some time now. I think about her a lot and the influence she had in my life. Well ironically enough when I was home last year saying good bye to Mom, I ran into Mrs. Hammond at Ross in the parking lot. It was wonderful. And she remembered me! But we only talked for a minute and so I felt like I still needed to write to her and tell her thank you. So you don't have to read the letter...BORING!!! But for the record here it is. Do you think I should email her the letter or write it out in good old fashion penmanship? What do you think?

This is a picture of her now!!! I wish I could find a 5th grade picture and scan it...somewhere in a big box downstairs...20 years later she is just as classy as ever.

Dear Mrs. Hammond,

What an honor it is to write you.

I am so grateful for our little encounter at the Ross parking lot in Coeur d' Alene one year ago. As I think about my life as a whole and about those certain people in my life who have made the biggest impact, my thoughts always lead to you. Now that I am grown and have children myself, I am starting to realize how precious and vital the childhood years are. I was only 10 when I was your student--just a little 5th grader and yet that year with you as my teacher has never left my memory. I believe your little time of influence played a significant part in the shaping and moulding of who I am today. I knew as a 5th grader that you sincerely believed in me and your students. We knew we were important to you. You cared about our education, you cared that we made good choices, and you cared that we knew how to believe in ourselves.

I think I told you at Ross that it was a goal of mine to find you and thank you for everything you did for me as a teacher. Our conversation was short that day and I left feeling there was still more to say.

I remember 5th grade to be a hard year. I remember feeling worried about school and having friends. My mom always taught me to pray and to have faith that Heavenly Father would comfort me when times became hard. I went into the year feeling confident yet apprehensive. For some reason you looked passed my doubts and saw my true potential. I think you saw it more than I ever could at the time. I was awarded the "East Farms Optimism Award" by you and other teachers. I think something stirred inside me that gave me the idea that I was special and deserving of such an award.

Soon after, you implemented a great idea into the classroom where as students we would run and operate the class as a mock city. You appointed me to be the first president of the city. I felt important and capable. Around this time I decided I would run for secretary of the school. I remember coming into class early one morning to show you the campaign posters my mom and I had made the night before. You looked me right in the eye and said something I will never forget, "I don't think you should run for secretary April, I think you should run for president." That small moment with you has stuck with me through the years. That year as your student I felt like I could do and accomplish anything. You trusted me and the rest of the class with hard tasks and challenges that always made us grow and feel more confident. You expanded my learning process by teaching me to ask the real questions. You didn't teach with an agenda in mind, you taught us how to teach ourselves.

At the end of the year I was sort of lost with peer pressure. I had made some "not so good" friends and for some reason their acceptance was more important than my strengthening and maintaining of my self esteem and my education. I didn't really know what was happening at the time, I was only 10 or 11, but as I look back, it is more clear to me how life started to make some changes at this time. I remember you were either interning, doing some extra credit hours- I'm not sure, but you took the place of the principal for several weeks. I remember I was in music class with Mrs. Brown when she stopped the class and told me that you wanted to see me. I came into your office thinking I was in trouble. I was not in trouble. You were kind and concerned. You expressed your faith in me as a person. You knew I was going through a difficult time with friends and you gently warned me, "April, you don't have to save everyone, you don't have to be friends with everyone, especially with those who tend to make poor choices." I wished I would have listened to your kind advice that day. But despite the rocky road that lay ahead that I could have avoided, I'm still amazed at your willingness to manifest to me that you genuinely cared about me.

Life's up and downs come and go and they teach us great things. Now that I look at my elementary years with a greater perspective, I am so honored and blessed to have a teacher like you. Whenever I want to doubt the public school system, I think of Mrs. Hammond and how amazing you were. You taught Bryon and Joette also. We have sat together and praised you more than once these past many many years. My mom absolutely loved you.

I know most of these memories of mine are probably non existent to you after being a teacher to so many hundreds of students throughout the years, but they are prized memories of mine that I will cherish forever. You definitely have made a mark in my life. Thank you for being the person you are. I know teaching was more than just a job for you. I felt it as a 10 year old and I felt it when I saw you at Ross (that is a great store by the way).

Thank you thank you. There, I did it. I found you and I have thanked you- the pressure is off my shoulders now- I just had to make sure you knew how much you have affected my life for the better. Your teaching skills are embedded in my mind as how I want to teach my children. I loved how most subjects were taught 'hands-on' and how they related to real life scenarios. You made stories come alive. A wonderful teacher. Thank you.

And one more thing--I turned out great. Your advice finally made more sense to me some years later! I also stopped depending on my parent's faith and found my own in God. I started to realize my divinity as a child of God and it has been my anchor for most of my life. After high school I served a mission for my church in Brazil and then graduated with my bachelors at BYU-Idaho. I have now been married for almost 6 years and I'm a stay at home Mommy to two beautiful girls and to hopefully more on the way.

Thank you Mrs. Hammond. I know you told me to call you Cyndie, but you will always be Mrs. Hammond to me.

Yours Truly,

April Tomblin Clark


Cami said...

You have a great way of expressing yourself. This letter will surely be treasured by her forever. I think you need to write it out. It's so much more personal that way.

Kelly Christine said...

i agree, i think you should write it out. i had a teacher that influenced me in many positive ways and i always wanted to tell him and several years ago he passed away leaving me with many regrets, good for you!

Kelly Christine said...

btw, what it your email address?

Tami said...

I agree too - write it out. An email is so impersonal and your letter and very personal - so write it out. She is going to treasure your letter!

CJH said...

You thought in pictures. We sat on the floor. You with shallow breaths caused by an upcoming test, me with an arm around you explaining a spatial/kinesthetic means by which you could visualize your answers. The task was to transform your pictures into words. You have succeeded; the words you chose brought forth my pictures. The universe shares itself in circles. Stay in touch, April. Cyndie