One of my favorite students of all of the twenty-one years I’ve taught writing sent me the following email two or three years ago at the end of her first course in freshman comp. I was her teacher. Obviously, Jill had a positive experience, for after looking up her grade for the course, she emailed me . . . ,

Mr. Pulling,

My gosh, I am nearly in tears right now. I checked the blackboard grades and I have an A+ on my portfolio…. I guess all that work actually paid off. I want to let you know that I appreciate you teaching me in English 1001. I think you are an excellent teacher, for the simple fact that you have prepared me for many great opportunities in my future. I feel as though I am a stronger writer now because this class was so thorough with the different patterns of development. I will continue to use the Longman Reader, as well as the Harbrace Handbook. I believe they are very good references, and definitely worth keeping. I hope that you continue to help others in their learning adventures as well.

Jill xxxx

Jill took her English 1002 sequel course with me again the next semester with the same grade result. She was one of those chronic teacher-pleasers, bless her heart. She would have memorized the encyclopedia had I assigned it. She poured all of herself into her work (with very good results, because she turned into a truly accomplished writer).

I’m particularly gratified that I had the sense to preserve that message from so long ago.  I ran across it, tucked away in my personal writing portfolio this evening, looking for something fresh to blog.

But that note almost three years ago wasn’t the last note I received from Jill.  Just last spring, a couple of months ago, nearing the completion of her bachelor’s degree at UL-Lafayette, she emailed me again.   Here’s that most recent message:

Hi. It’s Jill xxxx. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve last seen you. I hope all is well!!! Although you may not remember me, I remember you and your classes very well. In fact, I miss your class! I am writing to you today to let you know that I am in my last year at UL and I am doing EXCELLENT. I have a few people that I would like to thank for greatly impacting my college career; and you, Mr. Pulling, just so happen to be one of the main ones. Thank you so much for always being so helpful to me and my future. I have saved every single paper and every book from your classes. Believe it or not, even though I am not taking any English classes, these resources continue to help me greatly. In addition, I appreciate you trying to make a “connection” with each and every student, including myself. I realized how important and vital this connection is during my studies of philosophy. You are a wonderful teacher (and mentor), perhaps the best!!! I would love to take more of your classes, simply to undergo another awesome learning experience. If you ever need any help with computer programming, databases, or even help diagnosing minor problems with a network you have, I would be very glad to help. I feel like I owe you.

Have a nice one!
Goodbye Mr. Pulling!

Gosh. Isn’t that awesome? As teachers, we have to hang on to stuff like this. We can’t spend the praise at WalMart or invest it in a mutual fund, but we sure can savor it as a priceless, precious, intangible reward of the craft of teaching.

Thanks, Jill!