In January 2019, I was informed by the “powers-to-be” to spend less time on “non-music-subject(s).” So, what I would have said to you during class regarding life, I will write on my blog and hope you (my students) will share this “letter” with as many students on and off Oakmont’s campus. THANK YOU.
On February 10, 2020, I was informed one of my former guitar students had passed away. I will use her first name: ALYSSA.
As of February 22, 2020, 9:53am … I have not read the “official” cause of death. What I have heard regarding the cause of death is from the students. A couple of things … right from the start.
- How do the students know this information and the teachers do not?
- How come the students should know this information and teachers should not?
I have answers for both questions, but do not want to focus on those two questions.
One of the most frustrating things about teaching in 2020 compared to 1989 is the students are seeing too much that students their age can not handle! Seriously … the “adult issues” are “adult issues” that the even the adults can not handle. If adults can not handle “adult issues,” then how can we expect children to handle the same issues?
Alyssa was a wonderful / thoughtful / talented / beautiful young lady. She was a bit quirky as MANY TEENAGERS ARE. But my goodness … during her one semester in my guitar class, she and I had some wonderful talks about music and life! Again, very intelligent young lady. Now, my letter.
To my wonderful students:
My theme for this letter of encouragement is: HIGH SCHOOL SUCKS! Yep. HIGH SCHOOL SUCKS. Well, high school sucks compared to what life has to offer to you in your future .
HIGH SCHOOL SUCKS and that is one of the reasons I wanted to be a high school teacher and have been one for thirty years. I want to help my students get through one of the crappiest times in a human being’s life.
Now, to many of the adults who are reading this letter, you are probably pissed off or disappointed in me, a high school music teacher, would be so BLUNT as to say, “HIGH SCHOOL SUCKS.” Well, you be a high school teacher and experience what the student is experiencing. It’s chaos! We have allowed CHAOS to be brought into a world that really needs order.
I know MANY of my students enjoy me because I HATE… HATE… CHAOS. I call a “spade a spade.” You (my student) touched my electric keyboard without permission: THAT IS STUPID. NOT “you.” THAT (touching my electric keyboard without my permission) is stupid.
Using the cellphone while I am teaching is STUPID and rude. Again, NOT “You.” That (using your cellphone while I am teaching you) is stupid and rude.
My students know that I am not going to like them if they bring CHAOS into my classroom. “Do not allow your students to do things that would cause you to dislike them.” (paraphrased from a great quote from Dr. Jordan Peterson) I will love my students … I don’t have to LIKE them! In fact, I sincerely wish they (CHAOS MAKERS) would leave the classroom or better yet: GROW-UP AND CHANGE!
So, let’s return to the THEME of this letter of encouragement…
HIGH SCHOOL IS NOT… NOT … THE BEST TIME OF YOUR LIFE. It is not supposed to be the best time of your life. It is supposed to be where you learn decisions you make have consequences / results. We (adults) are there to help GUIDE you – NOT MAKE THE DECISIONS FOR YOU – to the appropriate decision. When you make the wrong the decision, we (adults) need to be stronger in our response to you. Sometimes compassion isn’t always “a kiss on the cheek!” Compassion: sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it
When you get out of high school, look at what you will have the opportunity to:
Enjoy a college education – be with people who have the same desire / passion / goals / determination you have
Be married – there is nothing more special than sharing your life with someone. Seriously. I know for the fourteen-year-old mind “that’s weird.” Remember fourteen-year-old, part of the reason you are in this world is because two people chose to “share” time together (smile).
Since February 1, 1987 at the Cyndi Lauper concert, I have had the blessing of being with Mrs. Everts! 33 years! We have had some incredible positive life experiences and yes, shared some horrific ones as well. (some of those “horrific” ones — thanks to me being a high school music teacher (sad).
Be a parent – there is an oddity in today’s world that a growing number of young folks do NOT want to be parents. THAT IS TERRIBLE. (again, just my opinion). Being a parent is THE BEST AND MOST IMPORTANT JOB for any human being. DO IT! Do all you can to be a better parent than the one you have (that … should be the goal of every parent: do a better job than your own parents).
Have a career of your choice – currently (February 22, 2020) we live in a nation that you can have the career of your choice. Even a career that DOES NOT NEED A COLLEGE DEGREE! (do not let anyone convince you, you “have” to have a college degree) DO NOT TAKE THAT FOR GRANTED. When my high school band director passed away my sophomore year in high school, I dedicated my life to be a high school music teacher! I saw what he did for me when I was in high school and I wanted the same opportunity: ADD VALUE TO OTHERS’ LIVES!
Be a friend – some of your best friends YOU DO NOT KNOW YET! Sure. You will have one or two “best” friends from high school, but my goodness … what a limited number of friends to have by the time you are sophomore in high school.
There is more to add to this list, and I will let you (my students) dream.
The point of such a list is our beautiful friend / student Alyssa… will miss out on those “opportunities.” People close to Alyssa will also miss out on those “opportunities,” as well.
I want you (MY STUDENTS) to hold on to HOPE for those opportunities.
Get through these tough years of high school. You have plenty of support. Frankly … you have more support than I did as a high school senior in 1984. Frankly … you have more support than my students who were seniors in 1990 and even as recent as 2016!
Times be-a-different in 2020! No doubt. Yet, many needs of a human have not changed! And one of those needs? OTHER HUMANS!
So, as a reminder to my beautiful students … I am here for you. I offer my ear to listen … my shoulder to lean on … my hand to hold (you just need to ask me to “hold your hand” – that is part of the 21st century culture (smile).
I know I have at least one more year as a PUBLIC-SCHOOL MUSIC TEACHER. After 2020-21, every year I stay is because I know I can add value to young people’s lives on a public school campus. Once that opportunity (at a public school) is taken away (which seems to be slowly happening – directing me to be a person I don’t want to be much longer), I will figure out another way to be there for young adults – not just for teenagers BTW. Younger people than me.
Let’s remember what Alyssa has taught us
- life is fragile
- handle life with care and respect
- there are people who are a part of our lives who need us
- LIVE LIFE TO ITS FULLEST WHILE HELPING OTHERS DO THE SAME!
I love you.
2 thoughts on “Letter of Encouragement for My Students”
thanks Paul. I will never stop saying things like this to my students until they (the powers that be) drag out of the classroom.
First MANY thanks for taking the time to read what I wrote. Please continue to share with the students how much they have to forward to. Another strange thing happened today at OHS. We need to get in front of this. Interesting responses to the stress of life. WE CAN HELP IF WE ARE ALLOWED TO HELP…
Love ya Ken!!
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