THE BLOG
06/12/2014 05:07 pm ET | Updated Aug 12, 2014

To Our Kindergarten Teacher on the Last Day of School

Jenn Horton

Confession: At the beginning of the school year, I was a bit intimidated by the kindergarten road ahead. OK, fine. I was fish-out-of-water frightened. The walls of preschool were easy, breezy. I rested comfortably in the secure pasture of ABC's and 123's, knowing sunny days swept the clouds away and the air was clean (theoretically).

Everything just seemed so BIG about Kindergarten: A classroom of 32 kids in a public city school, new families, new teachers and an administration riddled with red tape and a legacy of frustration discussed on a national level. What were we getting ourselves into, let alone, our 5-year-old daughter?

Now on the other side, with just hours of this kindergarten year left, I know the answer: We got ourselves a parting gift like no other. And frankly, it's all because of you, Mrs. All Kinds of Awesome Kindergarten Teacher.

You've given us an arsenal of renewed values, life lessons, strengths and one-to-grow-ons for her continuous adventure and our own journey as parents.

Just a game changer. No big deal.

We all strive to do our best wearing these Mom and Dad hats. Good days often feel like a jacked-up cocktail of exhaustion and I-think-I-made-mostly-good-choices. Bad days, well, the exhaustion has won and we sulk a little too long over some less-than-stellar decisions. The greatest gift this year has been you, in our corner, with your gusto a plenty. Your insatiable drive, creativity and passion for every Who-What-When-Where out of each of their non-stop, mile-a-minute mouth is breathtaking. Really.

It's no wonder the most common statement heard from fellow parents in our classroom this year was this: "I don't know how she does it." I don't either, really. But we all see your spirit is a special one.

Exhibit A: "This was the best day ever!" our daughter will say after school. I can't begin to tell you how many "best days" kept trumping the next. They are always in reference to a challenge you gave them or a realization they came to under your guidance. Best. Ever.

Exhibit B: Your heart fills for her and for all 32 of them. You often share sweet anecdotes giving us another window into her soul. When she told the girl in class with two dads how lucky the school and class are to have families like hers or when she tells you that you look beautiful today and you're the best teacher ever. She's a wise almost-first-grader, that one. These stories come in handy on those longer-than-long days where her bucket is empty at 5 p.m. (and mine too). You fill us up again and again when we know your bucket is probably thirsty after your own long day.

Exhibit C: Her patience is thicker now. She tries, like, really tries. She overcomes fears so much faster and attempts feats with less hesitation (roller coasters, new sports, harder level books). She enjoys challenge. She might still get flustered when it's really difficult, but she's prepared for the hiccups. You've taught her skills to cool down, find her composure. Begin anew.

Exhibit D: Ever since she could speak, she could hold her own with the best law negotiators. Her added skill thanks to your lessons is that she listens better, intently and thinks things through. Analyzes. She analyzes.

Exhibit E-Z and Beyond: She's eager and delighted for whatever comes next. We will not slow her down. We cannot. We will embrace her growing courage and tenacity to learn more, more, more. You have given her so many tools, this drive, this will to learn, to grow stronger and live loud (with an "inside" kindergarten voice, of course).

Do we try to parent and foster these values at home? Of course! But when we send our kids out into their home away from home for seven hours a day, five days a week, a lot can happen. A lot can go wrong, hence my Pre-K Freak Out. But I've learned my lesson. When a phenomenal teacher is truly present, any overbearing helicopter tendencies don't have a chance. D.O.A.

You encourage. You strengthen. You guide. Reading? Check. Writing? Check. Math and Marine Biology too? Check and check. But what happens beyond the books is where the real magic happens and allows for those checks to find their balance. You not only lift them up, but you show them how to pull themselves up solo when they need to -- and how to be there for each other. They find community and their words at the "peace table," resolve conflict better than most adults, taking giant leaps toward future humanitarian awards.

There's a saying that those who can, do; and those who can't, teach. What a crock of you-know-what.

How about this: Those who teach, empower.

Those are the real doers in this world, and you outdo yourself every day. To you and all the teachers who get up, show up and make it count: Thank you, thank you, a million times, thank you.