Dear Former Students,
Every so often, I feel the need to check-in and let you know that I’m still thinking about you. That might seem a little weird to noneducators, but I don’t care. One lesson I’ve learned over the years is that the only people whose opinions we need to worry about are those we care for. It’s human nature to want people to like us, but it’s impossible to please everyone. With that in mind, concentrate on setting your own goals. That doesn’t mean you’re selfish. You should care about your family, friends, and the world, but your first responsibility is caring for yourself.
I’ve been retired for four years, and not a day goes by when I’m not thinking about you. I can guarantee you that many of your old teachers are thinking about you as well. How can I promise that? I know they’re paying attention because when teachers get together, retired or not, we talk about our students. We care about you. We get invested in your lives. We want the best for you.
Before the pandemic started, many of the retired teachers, aides, and other workers in our school district gathered for lunch once a month. Of course, we talk about our children, grandchildren, travels, and what we’ve been up to, but one subject that always comes up is our former students. You should see all of the heads turn at the lunch table when somebody has a bit of news to share about one of you. It’s not that we’re a bunch of gossipy people; it’s because we want you to be happy and successful.
What is success? That definition can vary from person to person. For me, success isn’t about having lots of money, though it does make things easier. It’s more about going after and achieving the things that you want out of life. I’m not talking about material things. I’m referring to a job that makes you happy, a family you love, having great friends you can count on in good times and in bad, and being the kind of person that others look up to.
Success to me also means contributing something to your community. If you have the opportunity to help someone, take it. When you get the chance to lead others, embrace it. Given a time to make your community better, go for it. Not only will you be helping others, but you’re going to feel better about yourself.
When you make a mistake, own up to it. I’ve made my fair share, but I try to learn from each experience. None of us are perfect. Do your best in all aspects of your life because someone is looking up to you. It might be your kids, a niece or nephew, a younger sibling, your friends, even someone you don’t know well.
Keep chasing those dreams! I’ll be watching from the cheap seats.