why my son’s teacher changed his life

Dear Mrs. Smotherman,

I don’t even know how to start.

Every time I try, tears fill my eyes and I have to stop. So I will just tell you this:

You changed my child’s life.

I know, I know, that seems probably super dramatic that a nine year old’s life could be changed, but trust me, you did. And do you know how?

You believed in him.

Look at him. My Eli.

Laughing. Smiling.

Full of joy today.


You didn’t quit, even when he was frustrating.

You didn’t give up, even when he was at his end.

You didn’t dwell on the negative, you gave him a clean slate.

You didn’t believe the test scores, you believed what you knew he had.

For most of his school years he has been the kid that seemed to lag behind, that was a bit wild, that they thought needed extra help. You saw him beyond all the energy and the crazy and met him where he was and unearthed the brilliance tucked behind the surface.

Because of you I have a child who loves school.

I’m sure there are days that go by where you sit there and look at that room full of third graders and wonder if you’re making a difference. Well, after today and chaperoning those third graders, let me tell you first that you are beyond amazing. You must have the ultra gift of patience. But, you know, I can tell you care for each of those kids and that you love them for WHO THEY ARE. That, that is such a gift.

As a mom every day I drop my Eli off and tell him to “super focus” and “to have much fun” and then I trust you to be the leader of my son during the day.


And you have done amazing things.

I’m sure there are also days when the thanks you get seem thin. When the problems are many and the parents lost in the mix. So please, please let this be the day where you hear my words:

Thank you.

Thank you for doing a job I don’t think I could ever do. Thank you for believing in my son even when he doubted himself. Thank you for not quitting. Thank you for making learning fun. Thank you for giving of you every single day.

I know beyond a shadow of a doubt the boy that sits in my house is more confident today because of you. Look at those words below: he wrote them. Earlier this year he could barely write and was frustrated with himself. And now? Now this.


So tonight, tonight with tears in my eyes, I humbly say thank you again.

Why did you change his life?

Because you care, you give, you believe and you, well, you are a gift.

You are amazing.


ps. As the school year ends, it’s time to really thank those teachers who are such a part of our kid’s lives. My Eli will forever be changed by his teacher who loved him for him. That’s a gift of a lifetime. And that? That is why she changed his life.



3 Responses to “why my son’s teacher changed his life”

  1. May 17, 2017

    Lori Reply

    Today, I received an email from my 1st-grade daughter’s teacher that they have an upcoming “SAT” meeting about her. It’s a step-down from a 504-plan, she has ADHD and they take steps to work with her in class. In her Kindergarten year, she simply struggled. It’s putting it mildly – yet I’ve learned as she moved into 1st grade what a difference a teacher makes. In today’s email they asked me for feedback on how she is doing. This is an excerpt of what I wrote:

    I feel it is important to acknowledge that I personally feel a significant contributing factor to Cassidy’s success this year has been having you as her teacher. You have a style that Cassidy responds to; she feels included even when she is not the “star” of the moment. Your ability to channel Cassie’s energy, her sometimes neverending questions or diligent focus on one topic .. into a learning moment, is priceless. You seem to understand that these traits are part of who she is, sometimes driven by anxiety – others by excitement – and you celebrate them, rather than try to curb them. THANK YOU.

    She has shifted focus about peer anxiety to an interest in learning. She quotes you often at home (“little fairies are not going to fly in and get it for you!”; “there is no good day to miss school!”) and is properly upset when you are disappointed in a choice she may have made. I cannot thank you enough for the role you have played as teacher, coach, and leader to Cassidy; knowing we get to have a whole summer without the anxiety of her worrying about “change” with a new teacher is like a breath of fresh air.

    (In our school system …. the 1/2 grades, and 3/4 grades are combined .. an extra bonus as we get this teacher next year!)

    I am so grateful that you have also had this amazing experience of watching your child flourish under the right teacher … big love for Mrs. Smotherman!

  2. June 12, 2017

    Natisha Foster Reply

    It is so refreshing to hear your story of your son and his life changing experiences from his teacher, these days having teachers that genuinely care about children and their education has somewhat fallen off since my days of schooling. I am glad to see that there are still some that really care and give their all to the future of the children, thank you for sharing a little piece of hope to continue to believe in our schools and the teachers that make a difference.

  3. It is very refreshing to hear your son’s story and amazing experiences with his teacher, I believe having teachers that care and genuinely teach from the heart makes a huge difference in a childs life and future, good for you.

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