Dear Mrs. Wood

Dear Mrs. Wood,

One of my mentors, a man I never met, died last month. I wrote about him on my blog.  It got me thinking about all of the wonderful teachers I’ve had in my lifetime. My thoughts immediately turned to you.

You were my fourth grade teacher. I had just moved to the area. I was shy. I was awkward. You made me feel like I belonged. As if I had been going to that school since kindergarten. You made me want to be a teacher. Just like you.

I remember afternoons, sitting cross-legged on the floor,  listening to “A Wrinkle In Time” and “From The Mixed Up Files Of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.” I remember math games and warm hugs.

Oh, the hugs. I wanted to escape into your arms every single day. I imagined your home smelled of ginger snaps and fresh laundry. I pictured books stacked high on tabletops and a garden in the back with ripe tomatoes. A cat lazily sunning on the porch. Two lemonade glasses, one for you and one for me.

I imagined going home with you – instead of my empty home. Someone to be there for me when I was scared. Someone to cook me dinner, instead of having to fend for ourselves. A place where kindness was typical and harsh words were few.

When I talked, you would listen with interest. You encouraged me to dream, to hope, to reach. In y0ur classroom, the possibilities were endless. I never felt criticized or helpless.

Remembering now, as an adult, I picture your classroom and it was bright, sunny, full of light. I picture my childhood house and see darkness, stillness and fear. No wonder I raced to school each day, earlier than anyone else – always the first one in line at the door.

My teeth were a mess and I desperately needed braces. You made me feel beautiful.

My home provided shelter. You provided warmth.

My parents were always too busy to listen to me. You dropped everything each time I opened my mouth.

Discipline at home was unpredictable and harsh. You counseled us with care and concern.

I miss you, Mrs. Wood. I miss that very important year in my life. A pivotal moment in my lifetime. A time I remember, oh so well.

It was the year I decided to become a teacher.

Just like you.

Much love,



Filed under Growing Up, Teaching

19 responses to “Dear Mrs. Wood

  1. suzicate

    Beautiful. Teachers have no idea the impact they have on young lives. I have two very important teachers in my pst. Those are the ones you will NEVER forget and will always be grateful.

  2. angelcel

    I agree with Suzicate, teachers often don’t think of the tremendous impact they can have on young lives – sometimes it will unfortunately be with negative comments and all too quick judgements, and then there are those absolute gems, like Mrs Wood, who are shining lights in young lives.

  3. Oh my…thanks for the cry this morning. Is there anyway you can send this to her? I’m a teacher…and I know how much these sentiments mean to us!!! What a sweet, sweet letter.

  4. What a lovely tribute to your wonderful teacher. I’m so glad you had such a caring force in your life in a time when you really needed one. Touching.

  5. This is beautiful. It reminded me of being in fourth grade, reading about Matilda and Ms. Honey.

  6. I love hearing your stories. I also remember teachers for their kindness, and feeling inspired to be like them — not to teach, but to listen and offer support. It’s no wonder I went into counseling!

  7. Good teachers are worth their weight in gold. This is such a lovely tribute, but also a wonderful reminder of my own favorite teachers. Mrs. Elliott – 8th grade. She built my confidence more than I ever could have understood at the time. Thanks for this post.

  8. ck

    My 7th grade English teacher was like that. She told me I could write and then let me write about anything I wanted without freaking out over my angsty content. This letter reminded me of her, and the difference she made in my life.

    Thank you, Jane. For sharing some much-needed sunshine!

  9. unabridgedgirl

    It is amazing how much influence a teacher can have on a child. My fifth grade teacher influenced my life greatly. Because of him, I love to read. Thanks for such a heartfelt post, Jane.

  10. Oh, Jane. Those teachers we remember, the ones who made us feel cared for — how I understand that. My teachers raised me as much as my parents did.

    I heart Mrs. Wood!

  11. I had an English teacher that believed in me, and because she did, I began too. It’s amazing how my work improved. I’ve probably underestimated just how much of an influence she was in my life.

  12. Mrs. Wood is giving me the warm fuzzies. Most days I feel like I could still use a Mrs. Wood in my life. Daily. A woman to greet and hug and wish upon.

    Loved this.

  13. I hope you can send her this letter- I bet it would mean the world to her! Good, loving teachers are so very special… I’ve only had a handful of great ones but a long list of ones who were (apparently) burnt-out and just didn’t care… and even some downright mean ones.

  14. That is so sweet. Is she still around? I’m sure that she would LOVE to get a copy of the letter. I have been meaning to send letters to some of my teachers to thank them. I hope your post keeps me inspired to do it. Thank you for sharing so intimately what your teacher meant to you.

  15. My Mrs. Wood’s name was Ms. Matusiak. She played the ukulele and made bookmarks for all her students. I’ve tried to track her down and keep searching for her on Facebook, figuring (ironically?) that’s my best hope. I’d love to tell her what she meant to me, just as you have here.

  16. Really wish every human on this planet could have a teacher like this, Jane. So glad you told her, and so glad you’re offering this gift of unconditional teacher support to your students. That’s how we make the world better…and you’re doing it. Thanks.

  17. What a beautiful letter. I have written to a couple of my teachers before; like you, I just wanted them to know that they impacted my life, probably without even trying to specifically do it in the ways that they did.

    Well done!

  18. Wonderful post. There are so many good teachers that act as inspiration to us and, unfortunately, received very little credit.

  19. This is beautiful. I bet you have the exact same impact on your students. Sometimes we don’t really realize the influence we have on others just by our actions. Mrs. Wood sounds like everything a teacher should be.

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