Monday, June 2, 2014


Dear Spike:

You were crying when you walked into our room this evening, just a bit past 9 p.m.

"What is it?" I asked. "A bad dream?"

"No," you said. "I haven't even slept yet. I'm just nervous."

"About the last day of school?"

You shook your head.

"About the summer? You're going to miss your friends?"


"Then what is it?"

"I'm nervous about being in second grade next year," you said.

This I thought I understood. You're in an accelerated learning program at school. Even in kindergarten and first grade, you've struggled sometimes to keep up. You're a smart kid — brilliant, in my mind, for whatever that is worth — but sometimes I wonder whether you need all this pressure.  

I reached out and wiped away one of your tears. 

"It's going to be OK," I said. "We've got a whole summer to get ready."

You fell into my arms and sobbed.

"It's not that," you said. "It's just that... that... Ms. Clark."

Oh no, I thought. Did your teacher say something about second grade to frighten you? I'm sure she wouldn't have meant to do something like that. You certainly don't need the anxiety.

"Ms. Clark?" I asked cautiously. "What about Ms. Clark?"

"She... she... she's just been such a great teacher."

At this point your whole body was convulsing.

"And you'll miss her?"

"Yes," you wailed. "I'll miss her so much!"

Not every teacher will mean this much to you, kid. Some will be the most important people in your life. Others will feel like your worst enemy. Some you'll remember forever. Some you'll be happy to forget as soon as class is over.

But there are few people in the world who have the potential to mean so much, to do so much, to be so much to you. There are few we trust in the way we trust teachers.

And there are few — very, very few — who can impact our lives so profoundly.

You don't know it yet, but you're a lucky one. The woman who is scheduled to teach you next year, Ms. Leone, is as special as they come. You're going to learn so much from her.

That doesn't mean you'll ever forget how much Ms. Clark meant to you this year.

But come next year, just about this time, I suspect we'll be having this conversation again.