Schools are back in full swing this fall. Once the school year ends, instructors and students usually go their separate ways and lose touch. That’s happened to me in most cases. However, there are some teachers I’ve made a point to stay in contact with. Reaching out to them has enriched my life and demonstrated the importance of showing appreciation.
I still have an email relationship with my freshman year homeroom teacher, long after he left the high school. My emails frequently contain news about what his former colleagues and students are doing. I thought maybe this was getting redundant and boring, but he told me he enjoys the updates. He has moved around the country, but invites me out to eat when he visits Buffalo during the year.
A few former instructors have been honored with awards, so I’ve sent emails to them. A congratulatory message is always a good ice-breaker and an excuse to reach out to somebody. I have found that the teachers are always glad to be remembered. I’m happy to say they remember me fondly, too. At least, I’ll take their word for it.
Being remembered for your good qualities is flattering. It was funny when one of my favorite high school teachers told me at our reunion this summer, “You never caused any problems. You should have been charged half-price to attend. Some of these other guys here should have been charged double.”
Most teachers are glad to see that what they said years ago still carries weight. In our senior year psychology class, we were instructed to write a letter to ourselves that the teacher would mail 10 years later. He wanted us to reach out to him when we received our letter, so I contacted him. Apparently, many former students don’t do that. He wanted to know what I was doing with my life. Many teachers really care to see how their students have grown since leaving the classroom.
The best example of that comes from something that happened recently. One of my favorite and most memorable teachers in elementary school left a message on the answering machine at my parents’ house. It sounded like she wanted to reconnect with old students, possibly due to health concerns. It was a big surprise, and for a moment I wondered if it was just an elaborate prank. But I decided to take the chance that something positive could happen if I responded. So after looking up her address – phone books aren’t completely obsolete – I sent her a card updating her on my life as well as my sister’s.
A few days later there was another phone message from her expressing great appreciation and thanks for the card. I decided to go a step further and called her. We talked for a while and weeks later I even paid her a visit. Getting caught up on the last 13 years was great and the relationship didn’t end there. We still talk over the phone every few months. These friendly conversations make me so glad I was able to rekindle this relationship.
I suspect there are many others like this teacher, hoping to reconnect with old students. It lets them know their work has value and their appreciation shows how much they value you. So don’t be afraid to pick up the phone, send an email or write a letter. You might just make a new friend.