As we bring season four of #IMMOOC to a close, I find myself sipping on a cup of tea and listening to Pete Townshend’s song, Let My Love Open the Door.

Over the past 5 weeks, I’ve spent time learning with some incredible educators. And since I’ve been doing some fundraising, I’ve also spent time thinking about my dad, Greg, who lost his battle with Leukemia when he was only 33 years old. At that time, I was in the 1st grade at Seipelt Elementary. Back then, Seipelt was called “Pleasant Hill Elementary,” but it was later named after our principal, Mr. Charles L. Seipelt.  A couple of years ago, a new elementary was built, and community members were invited into the old school to reminisce before it was torn down. An invitation that I greatly appreciated because that beautiful little school meant so much to me. For me, Pleasant Hill wasn’t just a school; it was a safe place where I experienced love, connection, and learning.

We lost my dad a couple of days before Valentine’s Day, and I can remember knowing that I would miss my Valentine’s Day party then realizing that didn’t much matter now. I can also remember being nervous about going back to school and being away from my mom. After taking some time away with her, I met that first day back to school with great trepidation. As my mom pulled up to the circle drive, and I made my way to the front door of the school, I could see my classmates waving and smiling at me, anxious to give me hugs and a warm welcome back. Mrs. Bogess could have tried to keep things “business as usual” but instead, she somehow knew exactly what I needed at that moment. I can remember feeling like she kept a close eye on me for the rest of the school year.

Many heartaches and triumphs would follow throughout my years in Milford Schools but one thing remained, I came to school to feel safe and to be loved. Many of my teachers and classmates would never know about the struggles at our house. I was good at putting on a brave face, smiling, staying positive, but this didn’t change the fact that I needed love and assurance.

So many people, including our kids, are fighting private, silent battles. Our jobs matter. All of those little moments of connection that we create for others and soon forget, many learners carry with them for a lifetime. As Todd Whitaker says, “The best thing about being a teacher is that it matters. The hardest thing about being a teacher is that it matters every day.” Thank you to Mrs. Bogess and those students who opened the door to my heart on that difficult day in 1st grade. Thank you to the countless teachers, coaches, and advisors over the years – you were the reason I came to school every day.

And thank you to the educators in #IMMOOC who without realizing it, have given me hope and have inspired me to keep trying even when things get tough.

You matter. Your words matter. Your work matters.

You’ve opened the door to my heart.

Thank you.

Keep showing up.