17: To Whom It May Concern

17: To Whom It May Concern

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiration for Teachers

To Whom It May Concern

Anyone who does anything to help a child is a hero to me.

~Fred Rogers

I still remember looking at my daughter for the first time. My heart just melted from the overwhelming love I felt for her, and I knew I would do anything to help her grow and learn. Then, before she was even of school age, I noticed she was learning at a slower pace than the other kids.

She was still the happiest girl I had ever seen, but when she started first grade, I asked the school if she could be tested for learning disabilities. They said they didn’t do that type of testing until third grade. I was devastated because I knew that third grade would be too long of a wait. She needed help right away.

I kept praying and working with her at home, and then I was faced with a hard decision about moving out of state in order to live in a town with a better school system. All I could think about was how hard this move would be on my daughter, having to make new friends and get to know new teachers in the middle of first grade.

I had no idea that the move would be the answer to my prayers.

We made the move, and I went to school the first day to meet my daughter’s teacher. She was so welcoming, and the way my daughter looked up at her and smiled was confirmation that I had made the right decision. I felt the heaviness of worry lift off my chest.

After a few months, I went to the school for a meeting with my daughter’s teacher. During the meeting, I expressed my concern about her learning difficulties, and the teacher agreed with most of my concerns. I explained to her that the prior school would not test her for any learning disabilities until she was in third grade, and I felt that was wasting time. Her teacher agreed, but she was not sure if they would be able to do any testing in first grade either.

I remember quickly finishing the meeting so I could go out to my car and cry. I knew the only chance my daughter had at getting the extra help she needed was from me, but being a single mom there was no way I could homeschool and work full-time. Therefore, all I could do was cry and pray, and do the best I could to work with her at home.

I woke up the next morning and started writing a letter “to whom it may concern.” In the letter, I explained how every time my daughter and I would read together, we would both end up in tears. I didn’t have the proper training to teach her, and I wanted reading to be a joyful time for us. I poured all of my feelings, emotions and fears into the letter, and then shared my hope of helping her succeed. I begged for help in the letter from anyone who would listen, sealed it and gave it to my daughter’s teacher. Later that day, I received an e-mail from her. She said that my letter had her in tears, and she asked if she could share the letter at the school board meeting that night. She added, “I will help you fight for your daughter.”

I was so thankful that my daughter had a caring and compassionate teacher. All my daughter ever talked about was her teacher, and how she never made her read in front of the class. I was so grateful that we had made the move.

A few days later, I received a phone call from her teacher. The school board had agreed to go ahead with the testing right away. I could not thank her enough for caring so much and helping me fight for what my daughter needed. I asked for my daughter to be held back in the first grade with the agreement that she would be able to repeat with the same teacher. The school agreed.

The tests revealed that my daughter needed special education in reading and math for dyslexia and ADD. Her teacher and I worked hard to get her caught up to her grade level. By the time she was in fifth grade, she was taking all her regular classes with special accommodations that gave her a few extra tools and time limits she needed to succeed. By seventh grade, she was being pinned at a ceremony for the National Junior Honor Society as a straight A student.

If it weren’t for her teacher in first grade, my daughter would not be who she is today. Every time we see her first grade teacher, Mrs. Freeman, I am reminded of the impact teachers have on our children’s futures.

~Marie Ellen

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