To the Graduating Class of NEST+m,

I like to put the cap of a pen back on after I’ve written something decisive. Similarly, I’d like to put a cap on this year, something tidy to end a decisive year of discovery. But I’m finding that “tidy” just won’t do. There was nothing TIDY about this year of English, yours or mine. This year might have looked like a cursive sentence written by a third grader. Messy, sure, but a finished product that someone could be proud of.

If I’m being a little honest here, I came to New York so I wouldn’t have to teach for a little while. It’s hard to describe why, except that teachers, whether you love us or hate us, give a lot of our lives caring about you. I wanted a tidy metaphor to explain the relationship between student and teacher. I tried to say we’re like your parents, but that didn’t fit, and we’re not totally your friends or siblings either.

In the end, the best way to describe what a teacher is to a student is to describe it like it is: teachers are like teachers. We nag like parents and laugh like friends. We worry like siblings, but we love like teachers. It’s exhausting to feel so much love for 154 students year after year, and after last year, a little bit of me wanted to quit.

But the students of NEST + m, gosh darnit, you pulled me back. You reminded me why I teach and care and nag and love. You accepted a nervous teacher, a little rusty, and you let me in. You reminded me that exhaustion is worth it because love wins. Love always wins, no matter how tired you are, no matter how much the world wants you to believe that it doesn’t.

You get to put literal caps on this year (caps and gowns to be precise) and you get to mark the phase of your life as neatly complete. But because of the influence you’ve had on me, I’m grateful I don’t have to put a cap on anything yet. Because of you, teaching is not over for me. What a profound gift you’ve given in our short time together.

Nesties, thank you for spending some silly times and some deeply analytical times with me on this classroom. Thank you for letting me sit at the metaphorical table and thanks for the whappies. Thank you for your intelligence and your diligence, but thanks most of all for you. I’m proud to have been a blip on your radars.

You remind me that teachers are like teachers because of incredible students like you.

Do, please, keep in touch.


Mrs. Penrod