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An Open Letter to That Parent

Dear that parent,

Yes, you, the one over in the corner talking in hushed whispers, and you, the one starting comments on Facebook, I’m writing this letter to you.

As you type away behind the anonymity of your computer screen or huddle in the bleachers bashing me, my grading policies, and my decisions, I’m sitting here at 5:00 on a Friday afternoon grading papers, organizing art supplies (which I purchased with my own money), and counting money from fundraisers for that dance with the stupid theme. Is this how I dreamed of spending my evenings, weekends, late nights, or early mornings?   I can safely assure you that it most certainly is not. But yet, here I sit in my room long past when the automatic lights in the hallway go off until my car is the only one left in the parking lot.

Why do I do it? You have no idea how many times I’ve asked myself that very question. When I’ve been at school over 15 hours and am still sitting at a basketball game waiting until you pick up your child, I ask myself.  When I’m at school on Saturday to make copies and decorate for homecoming, I ask myself. When I’m busting my butt to fundraise for my homeroom class’s senior dinner knowing that I’m going to have to come up with the outstanding balance myself, I ask myself.   When I’m spending my “free time” organizing cheerleading tryouts, I ask myself. When I’m grading quizzes or planning lessons “off the clock” while my friends get to leave their work when 5:00 hits, I ask myself.  When I’m putting aside that $20 a paycheck so I can buy that class set of books for my students, I ask myself.

Then I remember your child. That high school boy that was so excited when he made an A on his quiz that he asked if he could take it home to show his grandmother. Or that girl that is so nervous to try out for cheerleading because she might not make it. The one who never volunteers in class, but always makes excellent grades. The freshman boy who wants to act tough in front of his friends but always holds the door open for me. The sophomore girl who is so desperately in love but needs a gentle reminder that she doesn’t need him to validate herself. The one who tells me how much he enjoys coming to my class everyday. Finally, the one who told me that she was able to tell a customer at her work the total for her groceries in Spanish. That’s why I do it. For your child. And every other of the 90+ children that walk into my carefully decorated room each and every day.

Although you might disagree with my grading system, coaching philosophies, or choice of prom location, I make the very best decisions that I can every single day. You can bet that I’ve thought through all of your concerns and analyzed all the possible outcomes. You can bet that I’ve weighed the pros and cons so much that my husband and mother can repeat them verbatim. You can also bet that I’m not getting paid to do a lot of the things that you take for granted. I donate my time, effort, organizational skills, and money (yes out of my pocket) for your child.

Please just remember that even though you want what’s best for your child, I do too. So, you can continue to bash me on social media, email my bosses, or cuss me at home. I will continue to love your child and make the best decisions that I can for them every day.

–Profe