About a month ago I received a sketchy letter from Ronald McDonald House Charities Fund. At first quick glance, it seemed like a sweepstakes-type of letter asking for money, and I almost threw it out. Then I re-read it. It mentioned their local heroes program, where they select and recognize teachers from Western Massachusetts and Connecticut. I still didn't really believe it, so I checked their website, and sure enough there were lists of teachers from other years who had been honored and an explanation of the program. The next day, I saw that it was indeed true when my principal showed me a check made out to our school for $1000.
It was right around the time of the creepy clown hysteria. After much joking around and laughing (much at my expense) with my co-AP and principal, we figured that it was unlikely that Ronald McDonald himself would be showing up at school to scare the children and hand me the award (if only creepy clowns were our biggest worry right now!)
Yesterday, I was presented with the TV-version of the check by a representative from RMCHF (not even closely resembling a clown) in front of the whole 8th grade, including my mom and daughter, and then in front of the 7th grade. I wasn't really prepared to say anything, but I ended up speaking for a minute. I told the students in the first assembly that they are the reason we, their teachers, come to school. I told them that I hope they know and feel that we love them and care about them, truly care, about every single one of them. To the 7th grade, I dedicated the award to my special class of 6 students, most of whom are in that grade. I said each of their names slowly and found them in the audience to make sure they heard.
I hope that some of them really heard my words. I think our students need to hear the explicit words sometimes: we love you. Yes, even the ones who drive us crazy, the drama queens, the divas, the angry ones, the ones who are hurting so much inside. All of you. We care about you. We pray for your safety. We wish for your success. We hope for your happiness. You inspire us. We are here for you. We wake up in the middle of the night and worry about you. We wonder what happened to you when you leave. We hope your future is bright. You are the reason we do what we do.