Visibility. A letter to my students.


Today, I spent all of my Friday at a conference in Denver. As I sat there, a bit sleep deprived and yet jittery from coffee, I thought about you. I want you to know something. I see you, and I care deeply. You matter to me.

In fact, you consume much of my thoughts before, during, and after work. I think of you during my morning runs that are supposed to be “me time.” I think of you while I lay in bed at night and read my latest novel; my thoughts wondering to whether or not my lessons plans for tomorrow will be effective and engaging, or if you’re getting enough sleep tonight and will be in a good mood by morning, or whether you will eat your breakfast so that you have enough energy for the day.

On the weekends during the time meant to spend with my boyfriend, we discuss you. He listens to my concerns and gives his honest feedback. He gives me endless support as I vent my frustrations about your behavior or your lack of “respect.” Still, however, I see you. You matter.

Sometimes, when I walk my dog after work, I think of bringing her to work with me tomorrow. I wonder if it will make you smile or brighten your day. I become hopeful she will make you laugh and, in such a moment, you will be filled with joy and peace. I become excited at the thought that for a even just a second you may stop worrying so much. You will stop worrying if your new medication will upset your stomach like the last kind did, or whether you will comprehend and understand the lesson I have planned for that day, or even stop worrying about leaving treatment in the near future and what your world will soon look like, or maybe for a minute, you stop worrying about not fitting into your family anymore and whether or not they will ever forgive you for all you’ve done….

Although I wish these things for you, more importantly, my hope is that you find joy in just her and in just that moment. Like me, she sees you and because of this, you matter.

I want you to know that I am invested in this relationship and even if you are not, I am here when you need me. As best I can, I try to understand your pain, anger, and hurt, and please know that no matter what, I will keep you safe. I promise. After all, I see you. You Matter.

Research tells me not to tell you are “You are smart.” Research states that kids who are praised for their intelligence tend to avoid challenges. Instead, they prefer simple and easy tasks. They are more interested in how they “measure up” or compare to others. In other words, they are focused on their their competitive standing rather than being proactive about improving future performance. However, I do not see it that way. I think you are brilliant. I think you are innovative and resourceful and unique and authentic. I see you, and you matter.

However and with all that being said, you are in charge of you and your actions, thoughts and behaviors. I need you to promise me that you will try. You can do this. I believe in you, and I am here to support, but I can’t do this alone. You are worth fighting for and when you don’t want to fight, I will. I will help fight the demons that live within you and show up every day with a smile bigger than the last. I am prepared to only extend love.

If you get anything out of this, I hope you know I am here when you are ready. I believe in you and trust you’ll do what’s right. I see you. You are visible to me.  I see you and you matter.


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