“Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow”



Dear struggling summer school student (about to enter 5th grade),

I was your summer school teacher for 3 weeks, 3 hours each day. Today, I said goodbye to you.

I (hope) you learned from me:

  • the value of working hard;
  • the importance of basic skills (math facts);
  • learning can be fun;
  • you are capable of so much more than you think you are, truly.
  • never, ever give up.


I learned from you:

  • a few of you are wracked with emotional pain (dad is in jail, parents are divorcing, etc.);
  • you like learning to be fun and you’re quick to learn;
  • you have some amazing teachers at your school (!);
  • “arm” in Spanish is brazo;
  • your lack of sleep might have to do with the violence on your street, late at night;
  • you hope to be the first in your family to go to college.


Work hard. Never give up. And you shall make it there.



Father’s Day


Summer School. Day Five.  12 students. Ten more days left. Our days together are so few and there is so much to do.

Kids are like mirrors. I am always learning from them and they show me things about myself. They help me be better. Today, I was teaching them how to use Word: how to open it, type in it, save , change fonts, etc. We were making Father’s Day cards and the fact that one student’s father just went to jail was not lost on me. “If you prefer to write a card to your mother or grandparent, that’s fine.” She chose to make it for her father anyway.

“What if I need to write it in Spanish? My father can’t read English.”

(Taken aback): “How do you communicate with your dad then? How do you talk to each other?”

“We say, ‘How are you?’ and simple stuff like that.”

“OK, Type it in English and we will translate it to Spanish when you are all done.”

Several kids nodded and resumed typing. I continued walking around, helping, realizing the chasm within their families.

One student asks, “Mrs. Wipff, are you going to call Anthony “honey” too?”