Dear First Grader,

I know you need a teacher. I saw how you walked in our classroom on the first day of school excited to learn new things. I see how you secretly “cha-ching” when I say it’s time for math mysteries. I hear you when you ask if I can meet with your reading group. I see your hand excitedly flap in the air to ask a question that I may or may not have the answer to. I will be your teacher

I know you need discipline. I saw how you tested the boundaries at the beginning of school to see if I were strong enough to deal with your misbehavior. I hear you tattle on your friends so that you don’t have to be the one to get in trouble. I know how you turn into a different person when I am not in the classroom. I hear you tell me “I don’t care” when you get in trouble…even though we both know you don’t mean it. I will be your discipline
I know you need to be encouraged.  I notice your sad face when I greet you in the morning.  I see the lack of smiles from you.  I hear you when you answer honestly, “Not good,” when I ask you how you are doing.  I see you quietly watch others on the playground while you are obviously contemplating life and its issues that are way bigger than any 6 year old can handle.  I will be your encourager.
I know you need consistency.  I’ve witnessed the 180 you do when I am suddenly at home with my sick baby and can’t come to school.  I hear you when I forget to add stickers to your sticker chart at the end of the day and you remind me the next day {One thousand times!}. I hear all of your “…but why?” questions when our schedule changes for reasons outside of my control.  I heard you ask me 30 times on the first day of school, “When is lunch?” even with our schedule posted prominently in our classroom.  I will be consistent.
I know you need a mommy.  It broke my heart to hear about your mommy dying suddenly.  No one deserves that.  I don’t understand how your mommy walked out on you and never looked back.  I hear you make up stories about your mom that I know don’t exist, just so you have mommy stories to tell.  I know you have a mommy that you adore, even when she doesn’t live up to my “mommy” standards. I listen as you talk about not having a mommy and how normal you think that is.  I will be your mommy.
I know you need a daddy.  I listened as you told me about your family secrets.  I know your daddy isn’t at home much.  I hear you say, “I wish my daddy would come home so we can play together.” I watch you stand in solemn silence as your classmates talk about how funny their daddy is.  It makes me laugh and cry all at the same time when you seriously cannot believe when I tell you I have a husband and talk about Cooper’s daddy.  I will be your daddy.  I may not be a guy, but I can play with you.  I can be silly with you.  I can give you someone to run to when you feel scared.  I will be your daddy.

I know you need a friend.  I watch you quietly watch your classmates on the playground, waiting for someone to ask you to play.  I hear you when you say, “I don’t have anyone to play with.”  I see you brushing the dirt in the ground with your feet as you walk during recess…talking to yourself because you are too scared to talk to someone new.  I see you in sheer panic when your *BFF* is absent and you don’t know who to sit by at lunch. I hear the “Do you know what happened yesterday…?” stories over and over again.  I will be your friend.

I know you need an advocate.  I see you drowning in our first grade curriculum, despite my constant efforts to scaffold it down to your level.  The lack of concern from your parents on your failing grades does not go unnoticed.  I know you need more help than I can give you within the four walls of my classroom.  I know that, sometimes, I’m the only one fighting for your chance to learn.  I watch as your classmates quietly giggle when you don’t know the answer to a question–even though you proudly raise your hand and try to answer!  I see the potential you have.  I hear the lack of answers from others when I ask what else can be done to help you be your best.  I know the federal government makes it next to impossible for you to receive additional help so young, even when I know how desperately you need it.  I will be your advocate.
I know you need love. I feel you hug me 5,426 times a day.  I hear you say, “I love you” over and over and over.  I hear you say, “You’re the best teacher!” even when I know you probably said that to your kindergarten teacher, too.  I see your sad face when you have to leave school each day, not knowing what you will go home to.  I will love you.
But most importantly…above all else…

I know you need Jesus. I see the cluelessness on your face when your classmates talk about what they did at church.  I watch you slowly shake your head, “no” when an innocent 6 year old asks, “Don’t you go to church?” I know you go hungry at night.  I know the reason you are at school even when you are sick is so you can eat.  I cringe thinking about how many meals you missed during our week long snow-cations this year.  I tear up when you want to go ask the school nurse to glue your soles back on your shoes because they are the only shoes you have.  I see the emptiness in your eyes. I hurt thinking about how little you know about your Savior and how little I can actually tell you about Him without getting punished.

More than anything else I can give you, I will be Jesus to you. I will sow seeds of Him in your life and pray daily that they will not return void.  I will be Jesus to you.  I will pray for you when no one else will.  I will be Jesus to you.  I will feed and clothe you when no one else can.  I will be Jesus to you.  I will love you despite your many failures. I will be Jesus to you, my sweet first grader.

“Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’”  
Matthew 25:34-36

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  1. This is absolutely one of the most humbling posts I've ever read. Although I work with my sweet Kindergartners every day of the school year, and wear many hats like you, I still need to be reminded of just how much they do need me and other positive role models in their little lives. Thank you for the reminder. God bless! 🙂
    Amy Lowes

  2. It is difficult for students to know they need Jesus when they need food, clothing, warmth, shelter, love, acceptance and friendship. Yes, Jesus is OUR answer, but they don't know that yet. In the meantime, please contact me ( with this student's name and information.
    Thanks for being such an awesome teacher, Whitney! Springdale is blessed to have you teaching!

    1. Thank you! That's very sweet! Although I was writing from experience, I was not writing about one particular student. Actually, these are just collections of memories from past and present first graders and the impressions they made on me as a teacher!