Dear Michael

education, photography, reading

Dear Michael,

You need to believe with every fiber of your being that you are an intelligent young man. I know that reading is a challenge for you, but that certainly doesn’t mean that you are “dumb” or “stupid.”

When I look at you – finger to the text, training your eyes and your mind to sound out the words you don’t yet know how to pronounce – I picture Jonas from The Giver. You have this ability to see beyond the words on the page. In some ways you’re limited by years of neglect from teachers who have passed you along without equipping you with the reading skills you need. And yet, every day I watch as you push yourself to overcome these limitations, gleaning the information you need to be successful from listening, observing, and applying your life experience to class.

Your comment in class today is a great example of your intelligence and thoughtfulness.

Me: “What makes Kira different from the other people in her village?”

You: “Hey Miss, could we say ‘unique’ instead of ‘different’? Different sounds negative to me, and Kira isn’t different in a bad way, you know? I mean she’s crippled, but she’s unique in good ways too, right?”

It’s not often a student who is reading on a 2nd grade level thoughtfully critiques a question I pose in class. You are a leader in my classroom, though I don’t think you see yourself that way.

When I call on you to read aloud in front of the class, I see you cringe with dread. But I also see Jerome, Lamar and Romone sit up straight in their desks and retrain their eyes on the story when you begin to read. Your courage inspires other hesitant readers to participate. The students in this classroom admire you. They want to do what you do.

Thank you for your leadership and your bravery. With perseverance and grit, reading will get easier. You will learn to read comfortably and fluently this year as long as you don’t give up on yourself and on the work I am giving you.

All my love,

-Ms. Jackson

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