Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Michael Daly: Gratitude for Teachers

After Joel Klein declared his regret that he hadn't fired more teachers, closed more schools and blown up the teachers union in an interview with the NY Times on Sunday, I thought "How come I never see anything positive about teachers in the papers anymore?"

Of course I know the answer to that - there has been a concerted, coordinated effort by the corporatists to privatize education, bust the teachers unions and turn teaching into a Teach for America 3 year career instead of a lifelong calling.

That effort is being funded by some of the richest men in the world - monopolists and slave laborers like Bill Gates, corporate criminals like Eli Broad, and authoritarian dictators like Michael Bloomberg.

So it was nice to see this Michael Daly column in the Daily News today:

ANY KID lucky enough to have money can shop in a store for a Christmas gift for a favorite teacher.

The kids at Public School 119 in Brooklyn went shopping in their hearts and came up with a gift any teacher was sure to cherish above all others.

The gift was appreciation, which is often accorded to firefighters and cops but too seldom to teachers. It was expressed to each student's favorite teacher in the form of a letter with the best spelling, grammar and penmanship the writer could summon.

Fourth-grader Kendall Hunte decided to write his letter to Iris Ofsie, the teacher he had in first grade, before he transferred from Public School 272. That was a third of his life ago, and initially he had some difficulty describing the enormous impact she had on him.

"It came out kind of tough at first," the 9-year-old told me.

He kept at it, just as Ofsie and any other good teacher would have wanted.

"Then I dug deep and I found a lot of things," he recalled. "It came out pretty smooth."

The result was an impeccably punctuated, immaculately paragraphed three-page missive whose sentiment was unmistakably genuine.

"Dear Mrs. Ofsie,

"Thank you for making first grade such a wonderful and pleasant year. Out of all my teachers at PS 272, you taught me the most. The knowledge you gave me, I will treasure itforever. You taught me patience, respect and being calm.

"You really made a HUGE impact on my life. You showed me what it means to be a friend and be kind to others. You really helped me control my anger, and I'm proud of that ... No one understood me as much as you did.

"You taught me what respect means and how to respect people. You also taught me how to respect myself. Respect means more than being nice to people. It means to do what's right when nobody's looking. Respect means to treat people the way I would want to be treated.

"Being calm is when people need to chill out. I've needed to do that sometimes. And believe it or not, it's been turning out pretty good.

"And because of you, Mrs. Ofsie, over the years, my math has been phenomenal. I passed my first math state test. Math was still a fun subject before first grade. I just learned the real meaning of math in first grade. Math is my way of talking to numbers.

"You always spend your free time playing chess with me. Even on the busiest nights and days we spend our time playing chess. Did you know that back in medieval times warriors actually played chess and checkers because they believed that it would make them better at wars? I say that's pretty interesting. I play chess just to have fun and to be with close friends.

"You taught me a lot, Mrs. Ofsie. You taught me that knowledge is priceless. Thank you for making first grade thebest year in my educational career.

The letter was sent from PS119 to Kendall's former school, but Ofsie had since retired. It had not yet reached her when I spoke to her on the phone, and she was surprised and deeply touched to learn that Kendall had chosen her.

"I'm honored," she said.

I was happy to read it to her. She was as moved as were the teachers who received letters from Mohammed, Rebecca, Kelia, Matthew, Yoland, Marsh, Jean, Makera, Nicholas, Yve, Keisha, Victoria, Serena, Edvina and all the other students at PS 119 who shopped in their hearts.

"I have tears in my eyes," Ofsie said. "To be appreciated is the best gift."

Yes, to be appreciated is the best gift.

Unfortunately, teachers mostly get disdain, venom and abuse from most people in the media and politics these days.


  1. Wow, what a gem of a post and a cutie letter. For all the blather about putting kids first from the deformers, they should be ashamed of their teacher-bashing and should learn from these little gem of students. Thanks for this RBE.

    God bless you and all fellow teachers.