“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”--Nelson Mandela
Welcome to First Grade! This is the start of a long journey of education and discovery. My hope is that you have a blast and discover that learning is a fun and adventurous life long experience. You will find that school is what YOU make of it. In fact, life is what you make of it. You should know that there are some expectations that have already been pre-determined that are non-negotiable, no matter how the next 12 years play out. I have laid them out quite simply here, so if there is ever a debate, I can easily turn to this and ask you to read it. I want you to know that this is a contract from me to you. I have responsibilities as well and will do my best to live up to all of them. You have a lot of family members that love you very much, some are biological and some are not. They all will take a role in your education at some point and most of them already have, except you just don't realize it yet. Those family members have my express permission to do what they have to do to make sure you stay in school and stay safe. They also have my permission to help you become a man who values diversity and the quest for knowledge. In this family we value education and diversity and we expect you to do the same. So here are the rules of the road and this non-negotiable and binding contract that if followed, will allow you to make memories that last a lifetime.
The first is that you must understand that both your dad and me have spent our lives working for others. This is why we aren't rich or have as much as many of your friends might have. Unfortunately, the world has their priorities backwards and in this world, money is king. What you have in this world seems to be perceived and interpreted as who you are. Well I'm here to tell you that the mentality of materialism is what got this country into the mess we are currently in. You were born into a recession for a reason and that reason is because too many people got too greedy and that greed brought us all down. I say this because as you go through school you are going to want more than you can have. You will see people with more than you. They will flaunt it and might even bully others because of it. What you need to understand is that it doesn't matter. Stuff does not make a man. Integrity does. What you give back to others does and who you stand up for does. I hope to teach you that in this world there will always be people who have more and people who have less...a lot less. There are people who you will need to reach out to for an offering of compassion and comfort. There might be someone with whom you have to fight for. I will always support you if you fight for a cause or for the humanity and dignity of another. I expect you to treat everyone as you would want to be treated. Don't bully. Let me say that again. DON'T YOU DARE BULLY ANOTHER CHILD! This nation was formed so everyone could be who they want to be. In this family we respect all people. Anyone is welcome to be your friend and the only requirement is that they hold these values as well. Your friends can be gay,straight, black, white, Muslim, Jewish, immigrant,rich or poor. They are all welcome in our house. We do not generalize and we do not discriminate. I hope you will learn that everyone is an individual and not a "group" to be classified into political rhetoric.
My favorite history class was in college when our professor had us read a particular section of 20th Century political history and then he would come into class dressed as one of the figures from the chapter. Our test for that week was that we each had to pretend to be a reporter and ask a question as if the situation was currently happening and then write a paper and analyze the answer. It was fascinating.
"The only thing new in this world is the history that you do not know."--Harry S. Truman
This might seem overwhelming right now, but when you are my age I hope it will make sense to you. There are many people in your corner. A lot of people have your back. Please know that having your back might mean that we aren't your friend, but your teachers of life.
I'm a firm believer that your generation could be the finest in history. Don't listen when people start referring to your generation as lazy and entitled. Your generation didn't get us into this mess of greed, selfishness, and polarization this country now faces, but maybe...just maybe your generation can get us out.
P.S. If you actually learn what the purpose of Algebra is could you pass it on to me? I'm still trying to figure that one out and don't forget...Go Vols!