Friday, April 19, 2013

Thank you, South Fayette High School

Aaron Skrbin
Assistant Principal
South Fayette High School

Dear Mr. Skrbin,
I hope this letter finds you well. I am writing this message to simply express my sincere gratitude for the foundation with which South Fayette High School has provided me. My participation in a course named Transforming Education—which addresses systemic inequalities, educational policies, educational reform efforts, and a plethora of other issues—has forced me to thoughtfully evaluate my four years at Allegheny, to critically assess my previous high school experiences and, finally, to reflect on pedagogical methods I found to be effective—both in college and in high school.  Through this evaluative process, I realized that my collegiate success is largely predicated on the strong foundation SF has built for me—and for many other students. I want to take the time to discuss aspects of my South Fayette experience that I believe have best prepared me for my future graduate work in education policy and for my upcoming position as a High School Mathematics Teacher in San Antonio, Texas.
My teachers at South Fayette—through their dedication and hard work— have truly shaped me into the person I am today. While in high school, they continuously challenged me to exceed my potential—this was difficult to accept at first, but now I truly understand the value in this type of instruction. More importantly, they inspired me to move beyond my comfort zone. I was often forced to engage in difficult conversations and to think deeply about issues that were controversial and debatable—this helped me grow and prepare for college-level classes.  Most notably, my teachers encouraged me to trust my own work. I now recognize the importance of having confidence in my work as a scholar. My teachers at South Fayette were instrumental in instilling this principle in me. I hope to instill within my students the same level of confidence my dedicated professors and teachers have fostered in me. As confidence and learning are closely related, my belief and invested interest in my students’ futures will hopefully help my students develop a thirst for knowledge and a desire for learning.
Additionally, my teachers have provided me—and other students— with an environment conducive for learning. Teachers invested their time and their energy to ensure that I understood concepts they were teaching. I was not afraid to ask questions or to seek help. I was intellectually curious—I always wanted more. Mr. Hausman, in particular, facilitated an environment that helped me discover my love for learning; I am forever indebted. He also taught me the importance of writing. Honestly, I struggled with writing in high school—and I did not want to believe what he said about the rigors of college writing. However, I realized, sooner rather than later, that he was right. As I prepare for graduation in a few weeks, I can honestly say that I have grown tremendously as a writer and as a scholar; thank you, Mr. Hausman.
Lastly, I cannot even begin to explain how valuable the graduation project is. I just completed my senior thesis titled “‘Won’t You Be My Neighbor?’: Analyzing the Impacts of Public and Affordable Housing Developments on Spatially Concentrated Poverty.” This topic allowed me to explore the interconnectedness between housing and educational policy. I was tasked with developing a theoretical postulate, gathering data, empirically analyzing data, critically evaluating policy implications my results suggested, and defending my research amongst a group of professors.  I am certain my experiences with the high school graduation project helped prepare me—whether it was the initial researching process or presenting in front of teachers— for the challenges and the difficulties I endured this past year.   
I would truly be remiss to not thank South Fayette for the foundation it laid for me. I largely attribute my academic, social and professional growth to my teachers at South Fayette. Thank you for the opportunity to grow as a scholar and as a global citizen of this country. I would truly appreciate it if you would share this letter with other faculty and staff.  (i.e. Mr. Hausman, Mrs. Ullom, Ms. Martin, Mrs. Sirc, Mr. Yerace). And again, thank you.


Denise Jones
Class of 2009 

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