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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Letters from the Past

We started our 2nd semester classes today, and I already love our new professors. They're both brilliant and it will be weeks before I can actually absorb what we've learned so far.

And then I got home and checked the mail. I had a letter from my alma mater, and figured that it was more money-begging. But it wasn't. One of my professors is retiring, and the letter was from his wife, asking his past students to send him a letter, including a picture if possible of ourselves and our families, telling him what we've done with our lives since we graduated and how he affected them.

This is a wonderful idea, and I get teary just thinking about it. Imagine if you were a teacher or a professor and the students from up to 30 years ago wrote letters telling you how you influenced their lives, or even just discussed what you've done "since then". I imagine a lot of teachers wonder what became of their students...he gets the answer to that question.

I don't know yet what I'm going to write. Truth be told, he didn't really influence me that much, although I still remember him and really enjoyed his class. What I learned from him was of course instrumental in my early career and I was a veritable walking encyclopedia with regard to the state statutes and various opinions from Constitutional Law. But other professors influenced me more specifically.

At the same time, this is a hard call to refuse, because, as his wife stated, he's more interested in knowing that we've been living happy and fulfilling lives. This will be a surprise for him, which is why I'm not naming any names as I muse. I do think it's sad that he's retiring...it's like an end of an era. I already know that if I were to go back, many of the profs I had would no longer be there.

And I have to also ask...will my letter to HIM influence HIS retirement? Would he remember me such that my letter would affect him like that of a student he likely knew well? Probably not. But I have to say, so often there is so little kindness in this world that even a small note from someone perhaps unremembered would be touching, to know that at least you had enough influence to have never been forgtten. That's a great way to end a career.

Of course I'm just a girl so prone to taking the emotional view. Guys...what do you think? Any teachers in my "audience"?

(As a disclaimer: What you say won't really influence my decision to write or not to write him...I will be writing. I just want your thoughts on the topic!)

8 comments:

The Ironic Catholic said...

Hah. I know who this must be.

Write him and update him. You don't have to say more than you did here. You can just wish him well in his retirement.

For the record...as a prof, I often wonder what happened to students who seemed to fall down a hole after graduation. I love hearing from them in any regard.

Adoro te Devote said...

LOL! I figured you'd know, but you're not sayin' anything to anyone so it's all good. Yup. The guy you're thinking of, he's the one.

By the way, is Dr. V. still there? He was my advisor, and I'm thinking he retired some time ago but I don't remember. I used some of his ideas in interviews and got hired! LOL!

I'm horrible in keeping in touch with people, but I often wonder if any of my teachers or profs would remember me anyway because they have so many students, and I don't think I ever really stood out.

Angela M. said...

I think this is one of those golden opportunities to evangelize.....

Adoro said...

Um...no, I disagree. Certainly I'll tell him I'm now working on my MTS which is a huge cry from what I did first, but I don't know anything about his faith life, not then, not now.

He wasn't the prof who destroyed my faith.

Fr. V said...

Write -

I get such a kick when a couple I married or a student I taught or someone who went through RCIA just thinks to drop a note and let me know what they are up to. They having the interest to write - even about themselves - is always heartwarming. At least they thought enough to write!

The Ironic Catholic said...

"Dr V"? I'm not sure--remember, I've been here 5 years now. He/she may have retired before then--it's a much younger faculty right now.

And you would be surprised how well profs remember their students...maybe not the details, but when I do get letters (even from 13 years ago when I started), I may have to think a bit but I remember! Anyway, it doesn't really matter. He'll be touched you wrote, I can guarantee it.

uncle jim said...

My wife, in my opinion, is a highly revered and respected middle school teacher. she often gets letters at time of graduation from high school and college and marriage and advanced degrees from former middle school students who thank her for her influence on their lives.

She just 2 weeks ago got one from a parent who enclosed a copy of a portion of an entrance application essay by her son to the University of Notre Dame - South Bend IN.

He was accepted.

The essay requirement of the application, in part, asked for up to 400 words about the person in their life who influenced them the most to make them the person they are today.

He wrote about his Middle School Science teacher - my wife.

She has a box she keeps these in - honest, it is very full - but she CHERISHES every one of them. They encourage her in her effort to make a difference in a young person's life.

The point is, you should write - I know how much notes from former students mean to my wife, and while the circumstance is different, just to be remembered by a former student is a wonderful thing.

angelmeg said...

You might be shocked what kind of impact you actually had on him. He may be very gratified to know that you are doing well. Add any little anecdote from your classtime with him.

I think he will greatly appreciate being remembered.

It is alot like my new mission to tell Fr. every time his homily touches my soul, because he often goes for weeks without anyone telling him that he is doing a good job, he only hears that he is messing up.