On Monday night, I wrote this …

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Brooke has been talking about Ms Nick incessantly. She’s been asking us what it means to retire. Telling us again and again that Ms Nick doesn’t work at her school anymore. That she went to visit Paris when she was all done working. That she misses her.

Last night, I asked her if she might want to write a letter to Ms Nick. I told her that I would see if I could get it to her. And so she did. With very minimal prompting, this is what she wrote.

To Ms. Nic,

I miss you.

Why were you in Perris?

I liked reading mumbles the bear with you.

I miss doing music with you.

Why did you retire?



I then asked her if it would be okay if I shared it here, with you. And she said, as only she can, “But of course.”

I asked her because I wanted to you to see this. You, the teacher who isn’t sure if you’re getting through to the kiddo like mine in your class. The kid who doesn’t make eye contact, who doesn’t seem engaged, who shrieks and needs to leave the room when it’s all too much. The kid who can’t sit still, who doesn’t seem to be taking it all, or any of it, in. This is for you. You, who keep at it because you have faith that what you are doing matters. You, who believe that a kid is more than a label, and far, far more than the sum of her challenges. You, who know that she is worth the effort, and then some.

You, who five years later she will remember. And miss. And tell her Mama about.

You, who have made far more impact than you might ever imagine.

You, whose work MATTERS.

Thank you for seeing my child.

She might not have had the words to tell you back then, but she saw you too.

16 thoughts on “impact

  1. “She might not have had the words to tell you back then, but she saw you too”.

    Thank you, not only to Ms Nic, but to all that have seen Brooke and allowed Brooke to have seen them.

    Love you,

  2. Thank you for this post. I work in a school for developmentally disabled and Autistic children. Sometimes I do wonder if we are making any impact. Its good to know that we do even long after we’re gone.

  3. We are a family with five sons, Two had/have autism and seizures. They were/are both what is considered to have severe autism. I miss, as does my husband and our family, one of our sons who died only 15 months ago . His name is Robert. Like my Dad, and like many of the other children in our family because my father was such an amazing man. Dylan is our 21 year old, He said his very first word last year, to me, Right before he turned 21! He said , and with purpose, grabbing my arm to put something which I had left in his room by mistake, “Mom!” and handed it to me, This little object I had forgotten,
    Later at other times with othert people presend Dylan has said “No!” to make his wishes known. Twice. 🙂
    I cannot and will not put time limits on what my children have and will accomplish,

    Dylan graduated ;ast June, and is working, In a moment I will be putting him on his bus, for work!
    He shreds paper with other people in a large building and then when they are ready, they recycle it by delivering it to animal shelters nearby, Then they collect more paper from offices and shred that, Dylan is very good at this and loves it.

    He misses his brother.

    I know that Robert is watching over us.
    love, jean xox

  4. I recently retired from working with amazing children like Brooke.
    There isn’t a day that goes by without my thinking of those children and their families. So nice to think that the love I poured into my career might be remembered and spoken of so fondly.
    Thank you so much for sharing this, it made my day!

  5. May I share this on Facebook? So many friends, so many teachers, would be blessed by you, and Brooke, and this gift. You could have cherished this within your heart, thank you for choosing to pass this on.

  6. Jess,
    Once again, thank you so much. I know that I love what I do, and the kids that I work with every day. For many of them, Autism is just the tip of the iceberg, the big, daunting iceberg. I always hope that I am reaching them…that my having what feels like a one-sided conversation – really isn’t so one-sided at all. I hope that me talking to them about what they enjoy and finding new reinforcers will brighten their hearts and lighten their load, even if just a little bit. To know that Brooke remembers and appreciates this teacher 5 years later means the world.

  7. That kid! She has many, many superpowers, but her strongest one seems to be the ability to make me spontaneously cry every day right around this time, the time i read your site each a.m. My habit is that i wake up, drink coffee, peruse various sites. I’m now beginning to develop some sort of pavlovian link between drinking coffee and crying, all because of that sweet one of yours!

  8. All good, no, “GREAT” teachers live for what you wrote here. We are all so fortunate to have them in our children’s lives.
    Love you,

  9. I was reading this on my cellphone while my fiance was talking to me about work and I burst into tears and he thought I’d gotten a message telling me really bad news or something. He panicked until I was able to tell him what I was reading.

    I am still here fervently wishing that my boys will one day tell me something like this.

    And I’m crying again. Love your sweet family. You are all blessings.

  10. It’s not only the people they remember. Places, early experiences. We’re beginning to see evidence of this, too, with Nik. It’s pretty mind-blowing. And beautiful.

    I sure hope you are able to get that letter to Ms. Nick!

  11. Thank you so much for sharing this! I am a resource teacher in a very small (225 K – 8 students) school district. I have two students right now, that I am wondering if I am capable of providing the support and resources that they need when their needs seem so overwhelming at times. But maybe, just maybe, I am reaching them more than I think.

  12. I want you to know that this post was a game changer for me and a student who had just recently enrolled. I was so concerned for her safety and the safety of her classmates that I failed to SEE the frightened little girl who had just moved to a new house and a new school. She was overwhelmed, and frankly, I was too. Then I read your post, and I realized that I had failed to see this little girl. She had no words to tell me how she felt, but when I looked her in the eyes and she held eye contact, I SAW her words. Her eyes told me, “Look at me. See me. Talk to me. I am important.”

    From then on out, the eye contact lasted longer and longer. She started making happy sounds when she came into our room. And a few weeks ago she walked over to where I was sitting, wrapped her arms around my neck and placed her cheek next to mine.

    I didn’t just see her, she saw me, too.

    Thank you for sharing your story, and thereby changing the world for that one little girl. You changed me, too. And for that I am grateful.

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