The Letter I Left

My dear Champion Readers,

            You’ve made it! You are at the end of your fourth grade year, and you’re a full 180 days smarter, kinder, funnier, and better at flipping water bottles (JK. I know none of you ever do that, right?). You’ve learned the stories of real-life heroes (MLK, Rosa Parks, Cesar Chavez) and fictional role models (Auggie Pullman, Matilda, Stanley Yelnats). We’ve also talked a lot, this year, about our voices. Not just our voice levels in class or in the hallway, but our words and opinions, what we say and why it matters.

            Some of you have grabbed the idea and run. You have investigated election issues and shared your suggestions. You have come to me at recess because you think something at school is unfair. You have shared with me your own ideas and worries about the news. Others of you have been less sure that you, ten year olds, need to learn and express your opinions about current events. We wrote letters to Governor Abbott about the border wall, which sits 3 miles from school. A few of you stared at your papers.

            “We’re too young for this, Miss!” you yelled.

            If you remember one thing from this whole year, I want it to be that you’re not too young. You’re not too young to learn how your country works. You’re not too young to learn what’s going on in our country and in our world. You’re not too young to build an app or start a Minitropolis business. You’re not too young to express your opinions to me and you’re not too young to learn how to do it respectfully. And you’re not too young to try to understand the opinions of others, especially when grownups in our country need some help doing the same thing.

            Remember the water bottle? How it looked different when we looked at it from different sides of the classroom? Your perspective changes what you see or understand. I want you to understand that you have a unique perspective. Many of you have two countries. You wake up and go to sleep in Mexico, but you spend your day in the United States. For you, alla, over there, means across the border. (For me, when I was ten, it meant across the room). You speak two languages so fluently that sometimes you forget which is which. You live in a place where speaking Spanish and eating menudo on Sunday is American. Our whole country is wondering right now: what does American mean? Your voices would add a lot of ideas to that discussion. You might persuade some people to change their minds.

            You know that champion readers read a little and write a little. They circle key words. They use their strategies on multiple-choice questions. But the most important thing that good readers do is listen. They read the author’s words carefully, and then they respond to add their own voices to the discussion. I’m curious to know what you think about all this. I will be listening.

            Even though I am leaving Pharr, I am not leaving you. I will always, always be available for anything that you need. You better stay in touch! Send me pictures, stories, questions; send me ideas and worries and funny thoughts. You all have taught me so much this year. I can’t wait to keep learning from you.


                                                            Ms. P