Mamacita says: Parents have a right to be kept informed about their child’s progress in school, and we all know that the students themselves are NOT good message-deliverers. Phone calls can be awkward and time-consuming; email is excellent for those families with computers and internet access; hand-carried letters probably won’t get home, and apparently it’s considered bad form to safety-pin a note to a student’s coat these days. That leaves snail mail.
Which, the more I think about it, is an excellent thing. Few people get actual LETTERS in the mail any more, and there’s something about a letter in the mail, to hold in one’s hands, slit open, unfold, and read, and put on the refrigerator door, that can be really, really special.
Many families dread any kind of communication from their child’s school because they know their child well, and any message can be only one thing: more trouble. I maintain, however, that no matter how certain we might be that a kid sold his soul to the devil on purpose and is happy with that choice, there’s still something positive that can be said.
For over twenty years, I sent this letter, or a form of it, to students I found to be creative, out-of-the-box, quirky, and right up my alley. Often, these kids were not making good grades. Often, they were. The point was, I wanted kids who probably weren’t going to get anything but bad news, or no news, to get something awesome in the mail.
So, here’s what they got, give or take artistic and necessary license on occasion:
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Smythe-Parsley,
The school year is half over, and I wanted to drop you a note and tell you how very much I’m enjoying having Ashleigh in my class this past semester. It is delightful to work with and to talk to her.
I am pleased and impressed with Ashleigh’s effort and performance. She is always willing, cooperative, pleasant, and thoughtful. Her contributions to the class are intelligent, creative, and contemplative, and indicate maturity as well as mental growth.
I know that attitudes instilled in the home are often reflected in a student’s behavior at school. I therefore wish to congratulate you, as well as Ashleigh, for her accomplishments.
Ashleigh will bring her progress report home this week. If there is anything you wish to discuss, please call the school and make an appointment. It would be a pleasure to meet you.
I understand that many of my former students still have their letters. This makes me very, very happy.
I usually sent these out either during winter break, or right before Spring Break. Sometimes I sent a few out at odd times because I knew a kid needed something positive.
Timelines and other people’s rules don’t make me no nevermind. Never did; never will.
(Unless they’re my own. I’m faithful to those.)
I hope you’re all having a lovely spring break, and may every message from your child’s school be something that makes you want to go out in the back yard and frolic, with ice cream cones in your hands and a jar for lightning bugs under the apple tree.