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From the Mouths of Sixth Graders

Deb Levy

Deb Levy is the Director of Marketing & Communications at ExpandED Schools.

When we sent notes to more than 150 Bronx sixth graders welcoming them to middle school, we hoped the collective words of advice and reflections – submitted by people from all over the country and even around the world – would be well received.

According to Leo Singleton, an English Language Arts teacher at Creston Academy, the notes resonated with his students. “It was really good for them to have an opportunity to reflect on others who have been in their shoes,” he said. “It helped to calm them when they were nervous and feel that everything was going to be okay.” And even though he and the other teachers had to explain to the kids what some of the job titles meant – (notes to students were signed with a first name, last initial and job title) – they opened up a conversation about possible careers.

As it turned out, several of the teachers at the school used the notes as part of a lesson on letter writing. And much to our surprise, a giant envelope recently arrived here in the ExpandED Schools office filled with students’ responses – about one hundred hand-written letters addressed to the people who had first written to them. Poignant, heartwarming … and, yes, funny … their sentiments brought tears to our eyes.

We created the Send a Note campaign to encourage people everywhere to brighten the day of a brand new middle schooler. We share excerpts from their letters with the hope that it will brighten yours, as well. Enjoy!

“The first day was scary … I was even scared to talk. The letter helped me because of the advice that said to be yourself. Thank you for writing this letter.”

“When I grow up, I want to be an architect. I don’t know how to spell it, but it’s someone who designs buildings.” [Note: He spelled it correctly!]

“One thing I noticed about you is that when you were my age, you and your classmates loved the band Mötley Crüe. Maybe if I look up who that is, I’ll like the music too.”

“On my first day, I felt sad because I wasn’t really ready for 6th grade. So I was nervous. Also, I cried, even though I had sat next to my friends in lunch. The best advice I ever got was don’t be afraid and step up to the challenge.”

“I find it very interesting that you went to school in the same city as me. On the first day of school, I was scared because I thought I wasn’t going to make any friends. Your letter helped me very much, and I think I have already started working hard.”

“What I want to be when I grow up is a girl football player because my brother inspired me to be one. I think I can go as a wide receiver.”

“You made me feel safe by letting me know there are people like myself.”

“On the first day of school, I was kind of nervous about meeting my new teachers. It turn out that I have some of the best teachers in the 6th grade.”

“My favorite hobbies are gym and lunch.”

“I am from Mexico. It felt scary when I came in the first day of school because [I thought] they are going to laugh at me. This letter helped me to relax.”

“My favorite subject is art because it’s really fun and the teachers push me to work harder and show them what I can do. And I can show my feelings when I draw.”

“Some advice I could give you is keep sending letters to schools!”

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