From Yaxha


education Ms. Jackson,

Thank you…

For teaching us everything we need to know to pass the STAAR. Also for believing in us when no one else did. Plus for giving us the power and the mindset that we can be anything we can be and that reading is fun and that we can achieve our dreams. Most importantly…

For being the best and awesome teacher ever!!!

Dear Raul

education, photographyDear Raul,

Did you hear about the rose that grew from a crack in the concrete?

Proving nature’s law is wrong, it learned how to walk without having feet.

Funny it seems, but by keeping its dreams,

It learned to breathe fresh air.

Long live the rose that grew from concrete

When no one else even cared.

Three days until the STAAR test.

Two extra tutoring sessions after school this week.

One last chance to demonstrate that you are academically prepared for the 7th grade.

You see you wouldn’t ask why the rose that grew from the concrete

Had damaged petals.

On the contrary, we would all celebrate its


We would all love its will to reach the sun.

You are the rose. This is the concrete. I have no doubt that you will show our school, your family and this community that you are smart and capable.

I would say “good luck,” but you don’t need it. Just be your brilliant, focused self.

All my love,

Ms. Jackson

(quotes from Tupac Shakur’s The Rose that Grew from Concrete)

Dear Ahmad

education, photography

Dear Ahmad,

I’m tired. The STAAR test is 54 days away, and it’s already haunting my waking and sleeping hours.

This morning, I decided to treat myself to Starbucks. I set my alarm 15 minutes earlier than usual, hurried myself along as I got ready, and dashed through the drive through. I couldn’t have been more excited. A chilly morning, a long week ahead, but I had my favorite drink in hand.

Setting up my classroom, I placed my keys, coffee and computer on the projector cart. Opening my laptop to log in, I tilted the screen directly into my three-quarters-still-full, steaming hot caramel macchiato.

As the coffee crashed to the floor, dangerously close to all the cords and wires on the projector cart, I stared in disbelief.

It was small, silly and stupid, but I felt totally defeated. Perhaps not unlike you are feeling right now.

I know how hard you’ve been trying to get your attitude together and apply yourself in class. I’ve seen you make an earnest effort to be your best.

But today, in the cafeteria, a minor slip. You were talking to Lincoln when you were supposed to be walking in silently. When Mr. Bain corrected you, I’m guessing it felt like your coffee had hit the floor. The extra effort, the promise of a good day, splat. Ruined.

I have to admit, your reaction was better than mine. I stood in my classroom and fought off a ridiculous urge to cry over spilled coffee. You walked calmly over to your assigned seat, stretched out across the bench, closed your eyes and said:

“Holy Spirit, take me.”

I wanted to join you with a hearty “amen, to that!”

The STAAR test is 54 days away. We can persevere. We will continue to put in the extra effort, get up a little earlier, work a little harder and keep the faith.

Don’t be discouraged or lose heart.

All my love,

-Ms. Jackson

Dear Omar

Dear Omar,

Can I let you in on a secret? I hate standardized testing almost as much as you do.

For teachers, MAP testing is a logistical and emotional nightmare. Shouldering the stress of 102 preteens who want to prove that they are smarter than an often-ambiguous test is nerve-wracking. Battling 34 computers in various states of reliability with chargers and extension cords everywhere is enough to drive a teacher mad.

“What’s this word?”

I can’t tell you that. It’s a reading test.

“The “M” key is missing. I can’t type my answer.”

It’s right here. Press this divot in the keyboard.

“My internet isn’t working.”

Have you tried hitting the refresh button?

“My computer just crashed.”

Why isn’t the charger plugged in?

“I’m distracted. Nelson is breathing real loud.”

Despite all the frustrations and the grueling three-hour testing blocks, today was an incredible day. You had the second highest growth in the entire 6th grade: 22 points in 5 months. Elisa grew 19, Angelique 21, and Keenan grew 39 points.

I am ridiculously proud of you. In fact, I am especially proud of you. Keenan exhibited more growth, yes, but he told me that he didn’t put forth his best effort on the fall assessment, so his amount of growth is a little inflated. I have watched you pour your energy into these exams and into class every day without fail. Your growth is impressive, but not astonishing. Your growth is an accurate reflection of your hard work and effort.

Hard work pays off, and you should be very proud of yourself. Keep up the good work!

All my love,

-Ms. Jackson