A couple of weeks ago, I was telling some friends a story from my childhooda story about a memory from the first grade. As an Army brat who moved around all the time, sometimes my early memories get jumbled up, but this particular moment is crystal clear.
Once I’d shared the story with my friends, I realized I needed to find my first grade teacher and share it with her too. So after putting on my detective hat and flexing my Google skills, I narrowed my search to a woman I found on Facebook. I unearthed my first grade report card and sent her this message:
After sending it, I eagerly checked my Facebook messages, and the next morning I’d received a reply!
Yes, I did teach first grade at Polk Elementary, and that is my writing and signature! I am speechless! I hope all is well.
I was ecstatic! I wrote her back immediately and said:
Yay!! I’m so glad I found you! I was telling some friends a story recently about my only clear memory of first grade. It was recess, and as all the children ran out to the playground, you asked me to stay behind. You gave me two reading books to keepa 4th grade book and a 5th grade book. I loved reading those books and read them over and over. I’m so grateful for that moment! As I was sharing the story, I realized I needed to find you and tell you what a difference you made to me.
I went on to tell her that I’d moved around to several Army bases, even living overseas for five years of my childhood. I always did well in school, and I was eventually accepted to several universities, turning down an Ivy League school when my state university awarded me a full scholarship. I earned an English degree and have had a successful career.
THANK YOU!! You have always meant a lot to me, and that memory has stayed with me for over 30 years!! I really wanted you to know. I hope you are well.
Later that evening, my heart was full as I read her response:
Sabrina, this message from you has meant so much to me. To read that you have been so successful in life truly brought tears to my eyes this morning as I read it. Your message could not have come at a more perfect time. I am still teaching but switched this year to 2nd grade after teaching 5th grade since 1992. This morning was our first day of school and I was so nervous. Reading your message about your achievements helped confirm that I made the right decision to move back to “the little guys”! My husband was also in the Army which was why we were at Ft Polk. The year you were in my class was the year that my son was born. He was actually born the last day of school unexpectedly, so I never had a chance to tell your class good-by. … I will always treasure your message. YOU are my inspiration!!!
I’m still glowing from the warmth of our exchange. To think that after all these years, one message from me could have made a difference in her day is simply amazing.
Do you have someone in your past who made a big difference with a small gesture? If so, have you told them? I’ve learned that taking the time to express gratitude is so incredibly rewarding. I wanted to share my story in the hopes I might inspire you to do the same.