Mr. William Cardiff,
I will not assume (for I do not want to appear too smug) that you remember all of your students, so I will begin by reacquainting me to you. I am Lee Scandinaro, a 2011 graduate of Norwin High School. I am currently finishing my sophomore year at Allegheny College in Meadville, PA (if I recall, you said you had a relative who went here). Let me explain an aspect of our institution in the hopes that it will help you understand why I am writing you.
Allegheny chooses an annual theme every year in which we focus on one particular topic of contemporary debate and address the different points of view. The hope is to a create a student body who can influence future societal decisions in an informed and reflective way. We do this by bringing in speakers and holding events which are centered around the year’s theme. This year, our topic of study is “The Year of Transforming Education.” Fourteen other students and I were chosen to be part of an independent study to help plan events as well as complete extra research into the topics discussed. We meet once a week and share our thoughts concerning the previous week’s campus discussion.
During the class, many of our discussions focus around what we think an education should look like and what we expect from an educator. Normally, we agree that the issue is not with the teacher but with the institution. We talk about how the teacher often times can be the hero of the classroom by working through the state education restraints (such as standardized testing) and finding a way to still make the classroom a place where the student’s beliefs are challenged in a constructive and purposeful way.
I am writing this letter to you in order to thank you for the great work you do as an educator. I always respected you as a teacher but, now that I reflect on the time I spent under you as a learner, I have come to grow and even greater appreciation for the work you do. In your class, I was challenged to view the world from the prospective of someone else and was given the opportunity to learn about a culture very unique from mine. This work in the field of diversity, I now know, is essential in helping a young person grow. Your class was one of the few classes that I felt even began to introduce me to a world outside of North Huntingdon Township.
Something else we have discussed as a class is how an education can really benefit from an out of the classroom opportunity which teachers the students how the information they are learning can be useful in life. This was fulfilled by you when you chose me to go to the European Union conference in Pittsburgh. This opening really helped me to grown so much by taking me out of the safety of the classroom and introducing me to people I did not know with perspectives different than mine and the people I most frequently interact with. I was able to see how what I am learning in the classroom is applicable in the everyday world.
The two most important things I would like to thank you for are the respect and time you give to your students. I always felt as if my thoughts were valued in your class and this inspired me to work harder so that I might fulfill this expectation. I also knew that I could come speak to you at any time in the following years of my high school career and get your advice and hear your experience. The fact that you devoted this time really shows the significance of your character.
I am truly appreciative of your abilities as an educator who takes pride in producing functional and informed citizens of the world.