And…..they’re OFF!

By John Gardner

College Dorm MoveMost of the college students are on campus by now. I’ve been enjoying the posts (more from the parents of the freshmen than anyone else) about their first (or even their last) child going off to school. As for wife Joan and I;

“Been there. Done that.”

Parents express concern that their children won’t call — or come home often enough. That’s legit, but if we parents have done OUR jobs…..they will. Ours did….and yours will too.

As a teacher I am grateful and appreciative when graduates that shared four years of their high school life at least leave me on their “friend” or “follow” list so I can continue to follow their personal and professional growth. And no! That’s not creepy. Its caring.

Sometimes I wish grads would touch base more, but I can’t judge as I didn’t keep in touch with my high school or college teachers. And I think I know why…

Few of my high school teachers ever took a personal interest in much more than whether the academic overload they were heaping on me was soaking in….at least so that my test scores would help them keep their jobs. The ones who DID take interest, I was never comfortable with how to approach or respond after graduation. I regret that.

As a teacher, I invest interest and energy into students. I want to know more than just whether or not they can pass my class. And I would love to hear from them after they go. I know. I’m just a high school teacher. And the reality is that for many, I am just the part-time assistant. So I get it. And I deserve it.

But I hope for more…..

Graduates, most of YOUR high school teachers DO care and would love to hear from you. Never feel like you are interrupting. If you don’t know what to call them (are they still Mr/Mrs/Ms?), then ask. If you’re not comfortable with first names, that’s ok. They just want to hear from you.

Maybe a note sometime about something you discuss in a college class that reminds of you of something from high school — or maybe that you have finally realized the value of some of those talks about making smart decisions — or maybe that you have bounced back from a hole you fell into during your teen years.

Never assume that you cannot encourage a teacher mentor.

Some of my favorites have been……

  • someone now working on a doctorate who just found that reference letter I wrote and asked for permission to use it again.
  • a college grad who wrote to say that, “I wish I had listened to you….but I’m okay now….finally.”
  • “can I take YOU out to dinner. I want to say thank you.”
  • stories from the students I taught who now have children in high school and college.
  • …and probably something YOU posted or wrote to me.

Oh, and by the way — now that I am no longer your teacher and you are no longer my student, whether you continue to call me by first name or last — is totally up to you. I answer to just about anything, you know.

Have a great college life.



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