This is National Teachers Appreciation Week, and we’ve asked you to nominate teachers who have made an impact in your life, your kids’ lives, or maybe your grandchildren’s lives.
We are highlighting Leslie Pershall this week. She is a busy mom who teaches Health and P.E at Hockinson High School in Vancouver. She says she’s honored to be nominated, especially because she attended Hockinson High, and now works with teachers that inspired HER to be a teacher. She was nominated after sending this letter to her students:
What a year it’s been so far. I can only imagine how difficult the last 8 months have been for you. I know they have been stressful and emotionally draining for me.
As I start up our zoom calls each day I always hope that I will get to see your faces and hear your voices. I start each day with a clean slate and mindset that this day will be better than the previous. As I click the link and stare at myself in the camera, waiting for the ding to let me know you’ve arrived, I think, are they having a good day, a rough one? Are they in comfy clothes or dressed nice? Are they tired and overwhelmed or energized and ready?
None of those questions get answered. I don’t see your faces. I don’t hear your voices. And each time another black screen pops up, my heart breaks a little more. My dream job has transformed into a small chat box where I hope someone will just tell me about their weekend, or about what their favorite cereal is. Every day I want to learn more about you. The more I learn, the more I love. The more I know about you, your passions, experiences, quirks; the more I love who you are as a person.
My students mean the world to me. I talk to former students almost daily. I check in with them about how life is going. They are vulnerable with me because we have built trust. I stare at the notes from students on my wall to remind me that the good days outshine the rough ones. That the tough days are short and that the best days stay with me for a lifetime.
I want to build those memories with you. I want to look back and recall the silly moments. I want to be a person you know you can go to no matter what. I want to make this a great year for you. I want to push you to be the best version of yourself. I am constantly chasing those wants…and I am falling short. I wouldn’t be able to call you by name in the hallway because I have never seen your face. I wouldn’t be able to recognize your voice screaming “Pershall!” across the lunch room. When we are cameraless and muted, our relationships stay stagnant. When we don’t take that chance to turn on our camera or talk, we are hiding from connection and settling into isolation.
I will never stop caring about you. I will never give up, even though some days I want to. That’s not the teacher I am. I will show up for you EVERY SINGLE DAY. I want the best for you. I want to know you. I want to support you.**