Jill Bartling, Dalton, NE

An inspiring letter from a 5th grade teacher to her students

August 26, 2020 |
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May 20, 2020 (The last official day of 5th grade)

Dear 5th graders (Soon-to-be 6th graders),

Wow. Just wow. At the end of every school year, I write my kids a letter, but this letter is going to look a lot different than my usual letters. Usually we would have had two more months together. We would have done all kind of activities. We would have made our testing goals. We would have had Luau. We would have had more memories...but this year is different.

Zoom. I had heard of it, but never really explored using it. Google Classroom. Yah, I knew you were using it in Science. To think that these would be an everyday thing for any of us? Nope...never in a million years. But here we are in the middle of the COVID-19 Pandemic. We are experiencing history. This is a history none of us saw coming. This is a time we will never forget. I am so proud of the way you have handled it. Zoom has become the highlight of my week. I love seeing your faces and hearing your voices. You have realized what school is really all about. It’s about seeing our friends, learning new things, missing each other, and establishing relationships. School is something none of us will ever take for granted again.

In a way, I can think of many ways we have become closer over these past two months of virtual school. I get to see you in your homes. I get to meet your pets. I see you in your pajamas and messy hair. We can snack while we zoom, and lounge in our comfy blanket and chair. I get to see your rooms. You’ve seen me in my visor and no makeup. We are seeing each other in a whole different view. (But it just isn’t the same as seeing you in person, is it?)

I miss seeing you. I miss your smiles and eye contact. I miss our high-fives and hugs. I miss seeing your faces when you reach your goals. I miss our routine and schedule. I miss hearing you read out loud. I miss seeing your desks filled with your papers and work. I miss watching you play at recess. Yes, you’ve done some wonderful things in virtual school...but it can’t replace the real thing because I’m not there with you.

Even though our time was cut short, I am confident you will be ready for 6th grade. You have all grown and shown tremendous strides forward this year. You have showed maturity during the transition to virtual school...and I know you have a better understanding on how precious going to school is. I know you will enjoy your time once we are back. And guess what? I will have you for Social Studies, so we will still have our time together every day!

Summer is even going to look a bit different this year. Even though we may not get to participate in our favorite summer sports, we can still go outside and enjoy the sunshine, take walks, ride our bikes, swim in the lake, and spend time with our families. We can get some long-overdue projects completed. This pandemic won’t keep us down. It will only make us stronger and realize the most important things in life....each other and the relationships we make along the way.

I will ALWAYS be here for you. Just because you are moving on to 6th grade, I feel we will always have a special bond. We will always have this time together in our hearts and memories. You have been a true pleasure to work with. It has been fun watching you grow in so many different ways. I wish you the very best always. Together we will be stronger and come out of this pandemic wiser in more ways we can imagine.

My love always,
Mrs Bartling

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