Saturday, March 2, 2024

An Open Letter by Liz Flaherty

It's no surprise to anyone that I have a soft spot for teachers. I've written about it and about them before. I've been angry about teachers' pay ever since I learned how much it was. I am reminded daily of how teachers have affected nearly every aspect of my life. So here is my letter to some of the teachers who've changed my life. 

Dear Mrs. Sullivan:

I was scared to death of you. But you taught me to read and to read well. It is a gift that has gone on giving ever since I was six.

Dear Mrs. Cripe:

You were so kind. I hope I would have already known about kindness from my mom, from Sunday School, from living day-to-day, but I remember yours from ever since I was seven.

Dear Mrs. Kotterman:

You made third and fourth grades a soft place to fall. I remember that from when I was eight and nine.

Dear All My Elementary Teachers:

You read aloud to us Every Single Day. You introduced us to Heidi, Little Britches, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Lazy Liza Lizard, Caddie Woodlawn, and more others than I can begin to remember. In case I didn't thank you then, is it too late? Oh, good. Thank you for every day.

Dear Miss Boswell--or more lately, Mrs. Small:

You taught me to type in my sophomore and junior years. You didn't make me fast or particularly good, although you tried. I've written 20-some books, using what you taught me in each of them. Wow.

Dear Every-English-Teacher-I-Had:

Those 20-some books I mentioned up there? You taught me spelling and grammar and to pay attention to both. Goodness knows, editors make writers' jobs immeasurably easier, but I wouldn't know how to write without the basis you gave me. 

Dear Mr. Wildermuth:

Algebra didn't take, but the cherishing of humanity did. Still does. 

Dear Miss Name-Omitted:

In high school, you taught me the hard way that not all teachers are fair. Not all of them are good. Not all of them care about students. Not all of them should be in a classroom. Ever.

Dear Mrs. Mungle:

When I couldn't find you one day, it was because you were playing Christmas songs on the piano in the cafeteria while the kids were eating lunch. That was so much more important than whatever the reason was I was looking for you. 

Dear Coach Bridge:

You still remember their names.

Dear Mrs. See:

You still call my grandboy "one of mine."

Dear Mrs. Wilson, Mr. Wilson, and Dr. Flaherty: 

I am so proud of you.

Dear Public Education:

Thank you. A thousand times over, thank you.

Have a good week. Thank a teacher if you were able to read this, count up my mistakes, and remind me of everyone I left out. Be nice to somebody.



  1. Loved this! (Judy Post)

  2. I enjoyed this very much and brought back memories of the teachers I had!

  3. One of my disappointments was being so old when I published my first book that my dear patient wonderful English teachers who had been so encouraging were gone. I'm hoping they're smiling down on me. They were so just what I needed growing up. Teaching is difficult and crucial. Isn't it funny that we pay the people we need the most, the least, and shower money on rappers and such

    1. I'll never understand it, either. Like you, I hope my English teachers were / are pleased with what they taught me. Thanks, Kim.

  4. This is so special. I'll add a thank you to my third-grade teacher whose name I don't remember. She read Paddington Bear to us every day and when I got to London in college, I visited Paddington Station, bought a Paddington Bear book at Harrods, and found a little Paddington tea set somewhere. My first baby's Paddington-themed nursery still makes me smile, and I passed on reading the books to our children. Too many teachers to name have changed my world!

    1. What a difference they make, don't they? Thanks for sharing, Cathy.

  5. I have the utmost respect for teachers. My little sister is a teacher and I admire her so much. It takes a special soul, especially in the world we now live in. When thinking about my former teachers, my English teacher, Mrs. Vignery, comes to mind. I remember her dancing to Pat Benetar's "Wuthering Heights" and being brave enough to wear a cape. Next I think of Mr. Johnsen, my A.P. History teacher. He wrote me letters when I was in college. Who does that? Thanks, as always, for sharing your wonderful thoughts, Liz. I always love reading your blog!