Miss Hoffman and me in 1984-85. I think we had the same hairstylist.


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Letter No. 1: Dear Teacher

52 Letters

Dear Miss Hoffman,

[This letter is part of my 52 Letters in 52 Weeks series. For more background, read the original post.]

I was much, much younger when we knew one another. You were my homeroom teacher in the 6th grade at Liberty Junior High in West Chester, Ohio. It might take a yearbook photo like this one for you to remember me. I liked Michael Jackson and Def Leppard and also clearly enjoyed mullets and true 80’s fashion.

Miss Hoffman and me in 1984-85. I think we had the same hairstylist.

Miss Hoffman and me in 1984-85. I think we had the same hairstylist.

When most people talk about the impact a teacher had on them, it was that the teacher encouraged them or helped them figure out a passion like writing or math. Those are certainly important impacts to make. But if you remember me at all (and I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t), you might know that this story isn’t really like that.

I actually don’t remember anything you taught me in school. I don’t even remember much about you as an actual teacher.

But I remember that you were kind.

And I remember that you were there.

Sixth grade was a pivotal year for me, but not because of classes or cliques, sports or special people.

In sixth grade, my dad walked out the door. Unexpectedly. An 11-year-old has no understanding of things like love and leaving. And in my 11-year-old mind, leaving meant I was unloved, no matter how many times that link was denied.

I refused to go to school. I refused to leave the house. I refused to see my dad. I was crawling inside a world where I could keep me safe and not let people hurt me and disappoint me.

My mom, devastated herself, called you. And that weekend, you took me to lunch at a local pizza place. I don’t know if you had other plans for that Saturday, but you made time for an 11-year-old girl who was hurting.

I remember being willing to go because I considered you my favorite teacher. You had a kind smile. And you were funny.

As our slices of pizza were delivered to the table, hot and greasy with pepperoni, I watched you grab a jar of something I didn’t recongize and shake it onto your slice.

So I did the same thing.

A few minutes later, I realized my mistake as my eyes began to water more from the heat of the crushed red peppers than from the tears that were already flowing.

You offered me water and laughed with me.

I don’t remember anything else you said that day.

But I remember that you were kind.

And I remember that you were there.

Please pardon the (too many) years between that day and today. I just wanted you to know that that moment has stayed with me over those years.

I don’t know if you remained a teacher. I don’t know where you are or if you’ve gotten married and your name is now different. I’ve looked and not been able to find you.

I don’t know if you’ve ever been thanked for the impact you’ve had on any student. But you had an impact on me.

Thank you for being kind. And thank you for being there.

Between then and now,

Dear Reader:

If you know (the possibly former) Miss Hoffman, I’d love if you’d share this letter with her. Even more, I’d love if she’d comment below about whether she’s still a teacher and where her life has taken her.

And be sure to subscribe so you won’t miss any of the 52 Letters. One just might be to you.


Last modified: December 31, 2017

2 Responses to " Letter No. 1: Dear Teacher "

  1. Tears streaming down my face, Melissa. Such a beautiful story, told in such a beautiful way. Love your heart, my friend!

    Yesterday, one of my all-time favorite bloggers, Rachel Macy Stafford (aka. Hands Free Mama) posted her first video on FB. During it, a phrase flowed from her lips so freely, I doubt she herself even realized how powerful it was. But, I ‘caught’ it and added it to my collection of favorite phrases…”When we see each others scars, we love each other more.” That pretty much sums up how I am feeling about you and your sweet post.

    Thanks for bravely opening up to share the story of Miss Hoffman with all of us.

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