Ms. Johnson’s Welcome Letter for the 2010 School Year Reply

Dear BSGE Student:
Though I’ve already greeted, joked with, or playfully teased many of you, I now say for the first time welcome to the new students and welcome back to the returning students.
October is over, marking the end of the second month of the school year and as usual I’m just writing my welcome letter.  Either I’m the poster person for creature of habit or I unconsciously believe that one should not tamper with something that works.   I’m not certain which possibility is best, so I’ll leave it to you to decide.
Unfortunately, sometimes in order to appreciate, I mean to truly appreciate, what we have we must venture away from it.   I had that experience this past summer while supervising our summer school program in another school building.  When summer school ended and I returned to our school building, our home away from home, and my appreciation for my BSGE family was magnified twenty fold.  I realized that the opportunity to learn and work in an environment where the culture of mutual respect, trust, nurturance, support and personalization is intentional should not be taken for granted.  So when I say, “good morning”, “what’s up”, or “how are you holding up”, it comes from my heart and not from the Chancellor’s rules and regulations.
New BSGE family members, I often wonder how strange we appear to you as you observe us in class, the cafeteria and the hallways, especially on the first floor after school.  You must wonder what your parents have gotten you into and how long will it take before you’re sounding and acting like ‘them’- those of us here before you.  You’re probably asking yourself if people really like learning and challenging themselves as much as the people here seem to and is learning actually fun?
If you are feeling a bit out of place or overwhelmed you are not alone, most students feel this way at first.  Be assured that members of your BSGE family will assist you as you transition into this school community and will be with you throughout your journey here.  As you acclimate to your new learning environment and become acquainted with your new family, don’t be intimidated by your teacher’s high expectations or discouraged by the academic rigor.  You can reach the peak of the mountain you see before you because there are people along the pathway to help you.
Last year, I encouraged students to be motivated by people who doubted them.  My message was for them to use the discouragement of doubters as fuel to help them succeed.  Doubters are people who’ve given up on their own dreams, who’ve accepted less for themselves and from others and who as a result have not achieved their goals.  Basically I challenged students to prove these doubters wrong.
This year I’m concerned that the filter through which you see yourself, in these economically challenging times, may be blurred with pessimism, despair and feelings of defeat as you work to complete the myriad of tasks and assessments for school.  When the economy is good, when our troops are in training and not at war, and when there is a sense of well being throughout society, drawing from within ourselves the hope and optimism we need isn’t too difficult.  But in times such as this, when people are struggling day in and day out just to survive, and when our economic and social realities more often than not aren’t what we envisioned for ourselves, hope and optimism do not come easy.  In times like these even the doubters are too preoccupied with their own survival to discourage you.  But with so many people immobilized by their day to day struggles there are few who are able to lift your spirits up.  So if you find your energy low, tank empty, your confidence down, or your self-image poor, I want you to “picture you the way that I do”, Oleta Adams.
Your path to the IB Diploma more than likely will not be smooth.  By design it is not supposed to be.  The development of character, the acquisition of academic and organizing skills while meeting the social challenges that all tweens and teens must meet takes sweat and sometimes tears.  But with determination and support you can be successful. So if during your time at BSGE, you look into the mirror and don’t see yourself victorious just remember to “picture you the way that I do”.
Ms. Johnson

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