An open letter to teachers everywhere

I sent the following letter to my kids’ teachers and all of their past teachers (that I have contact info on). I have been thinking about the Newtown tragedy since it happened and have shed many tears over it. I can’t do much to help the people of Newtown, but I can thank my children’s teachers for all they do and let them know I appreciate them. Hug your children extra tight this weekend, and thank your children’s teachers for all they do. A simple thank you goes a long way.


I have been deeply affected by what happened in Newtown on Friday. I can’t help but think “What if that were my child in their situation”. I wanted to run to school on Friday and bring my babies home early and never send them back.

As a parent, I want to keep them safe and out of harms way. However, I have been reminded through learning more about this tragedy that each of the teachers at their school love their students. You love your students. You teach them. You worry about them. You laugh with them and play with them. You stay up at night thinking about them. You protect them.

I just wanted to take a minute to thank you for caring about my kids and loving them. For worrying about them. And for teaching them. For helping them to be the best they can be.

I want you to know that I am grateful for you and for teachers like you. I want you to know that I know my kids are in good hands while in your care each day. I know you will protect them and keep them safe.

Thank you for all you do. I appreciate you. I’m sure you don’t hear this enough. I need to say thank you more. So Thank You. Thank you for not only teaching, but for caring about and shaping the lives of these little people.

I still remember each of my elementary school teachers fondly. As an adult I have even gone back and visited them in their classrooms. They are forever imprinted on my heart, as you will be on my child’s. You may not feel it every day, but you are making such an impression that these children will carry with them forever. Thank you.

As much as I want to keep my kids home and safe, I will send them back to school Monday because I know that they are safe and loved in your care. I trust that they are in good hands. It comforts me to know you are watching out for them and care about them. One thing I have learned from the Newtown tragedy is how much these teachers cared for their students. They didn’t flee and abandon the kids. They protected them. Some even took bullets for them. This tragedy has reminded me how lucky I am that my kids have such wonderful people caring for them. They are in good hands with you. Thank you.

My children do not know about the Newtown tragedy. I was going to tell them but couldn’t find the words. I don’t want them to be scared to go to school. I don’t want to steal their youth and innocence by having them worry that they might be gunned down during math class. If there is any way you can keep a lid on this at school I would greatly appreciate it, as I’m sure most parents would agree. If you have any pointers for talking to my children about this please let me know. I just can’t think of any way to present this without them being afraid of going back to school and being attacked by bad guys. Maybe it’s wrong of me to not tell them. I don’t know what the right way to handle this is. Telling your child that two classrooms of kids were murdered while at school is not something you’ll find in the parenting handbook. Please keep that in mind as you overhear chatter on Monday.

Again, thank you for all you do. We need more people like you in the world. Thank you for giving me comfort in knowing that my babies are loved and cared for while in your hands. Thank you for not only teaching them, but for being a role model to them. They say it takes a village to raise a child. Thank you for being part of my village. I couldn’t have asked for anyone better.

Allison Hepworth

edited to add: After some gentle prodding from you guys, I told my kids this morning about the tragedy. My 5th grade son already knew! Apparently a friend at a party we were at last night told him. My 3rd grade daughter was horrified. After a few minutes of discussion she is now fine. My kids didn’t want to talk about details of the attack, they only wanted to talk about all the safety measures at their school and how they will be safe if something bad happens at their school. I felt comforted knowing they have some pretty good lock-down measures in place. Thanks everyone for your encouragement. I do feel better now that they know.

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  1. This is so wonderful, and so important. As you say at the beinning: “I can’t do much to help the people of Newtown, but I can thank my children’s teachers for all they do and let them know I appreciate them.”

  2. We haven’t let our 9 year old watch any of the news reportings from CT. My husband and I sat down with him today and explained (in as little of detail as possible) what happen. We told him that this is extremely rare and that he is safe at school. We explained that it was very upsetting for alot of people and that he may hear about it at school and that we wanted him to come to us with any questions, fears or concerns that he might be having.

    He said that they have drills already at school that they run a few times a year on where they are to hide if someone tries to get into the school. Each kid has an assigned cabinet or closet. So sad that our children have to live in a world like that. Just reminds us to hug them all a little tighter.

    Great letter to the teachers.


  3. What a wonderful idea. Thanks for sharing this!!

  4. That is an awesome letter. I know your kids’ teachers will appreciate it. When I was teaching, I loved the little things parents would do to say “thanks.” I was a SPED teacher and it was a difficult job that I loved most of the time. The little things make a HUGE difference!

  5. Beautifully written. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Thank you for sharing your wonderfully well written letter. That you put a great deal of thought and feeling into your letter will be so appreciated by those for whom it is intended.

  7. I’m a mom and a teacher and have been thinking about those poor children , their parents and teachers all weekend. Your letter is beautiful and says it all. Thank you for appreciating the teachers in your children’s lives. This letter is a lovely gift to them and will really touch their hearts at a time when i know they will be hurting too. You really summed up how teachers feel about their students. We really do love them.

  8. Hello Allison,

    Thank you for sharing what is in your heart. The teachers you send this to will truly appreciate your thoughts. I can appreciate that you don’t want to create fear in your children about going to school. However, I worry that by not telling them and them finding out from others what happened, in a situation you cannot control, that they may not feel they can come to you when bad things happen. They may worry about how you will handle it. Since it is all over the news, it stands to reason that other kids know about it and will talk about it. They will most likely talk about it at school as well. The way you presented what happened about kids being murdered, while very true, isn’t necessarily the way you tell the kids. You can share that a bad guy got into the school and did a bad thing, but emphasize it is rare that it happens and it is a really sad thing. The details they don’t need to know. I know this is a struggle and innocence for kids is being lost so early. It’s not fair and it’s not right, but it is reality. Keeping those lines of communication open with kids is so very important. Hugs to you as you contemplate this situation. And I hope you don’t mind a complete stranger (who reads and enjoys your blog) putting her two cents in. I felt compelled to share what is in my heart as I read your blog today.

    • Jeanne, I was thinking the exact same thing. When I read your post, Allison, I immediately felt concern that you did not want to tell your children. I can certainly understand wanting to protect their innocence ( I still want to protect my children’s, and they are 19 and 21). But, as Jeanne said, they are going to hear about it somehow from someone, probably in more graphic detail than necessary. They will be confused and scared, and they need you to comfort and reassure them.
      I’m a longtime fan of your blog, and I hope you know that I write out of concern, not judgment. Your letter is beautiful, and we should all thank the teachers in our lives.

  9. Allison,

    What a wonderful letter you sent out. I have been in the middle school in various jobs for over 20 years. I would always tell the children that I came in contact with that I loved them and that I had dreams for their futures. My heart aches for you as a parent having to deal with your fear. Over the years there have been many events that spoke to my heart, but none can compare to this one. Now I am watching my own children, grown, working in the school as teachers. I am proud that I passed a love for children on to them. Thank you for appreciating the job that teachers and other school workers do. We really do love your child, dream for your child, worry for your child, and cherish your child. Thank you Allison for being such a loving, careing and concerned Mama.

  10. This may help some of your readers:
    Helping Children Cope

  11. Allison, this is such a wonderful letter!
    I grew up in the time of drills for the “bomb” in the 60’s. we didn’t really get it, but we knew it was important to listen to the teachers and duck and cover. To me, it wasn’t much different than a tornado drill. I am sure to my parents it was scary that the kids had to drill for the possibility that a bomb would drop.
    It’s much closer to home now for parents and your letter communicates such love and trust. Well done.

  12. Allison, what a wonderful letter! All weekend I’ve been thinking of adding a letter to the Christmas gift for my daughter’s teacher. She is an amazing woman! Friday’s tragedy really hits home, my daughter is in first grade and her classroom is the first one you come to when you enter the school. While waiting in the school Friday to pick her up I had to fight back tears. I was the only mom there with red puffy eyes and I tried not to look at anyone for fear of bursting into tears. Last night my baby girl lost her first tooth and it made me think of those poor children – did some of them have their first loose tooth? It’s sad to think of all the little things their families will miss!!

    Thanks soo much for sharing your letter! I’ll be sharing it on FB.

    ~ Catie

  13. As a former teacher who quit the field after taking a knife away from a student, and on another occasion having a student (a devil worshiper) threaten my children; I thank you for your wonderful heartfelt letter. Teachers are becoming more like policemen and firemen and counselors everyday and most of us didn’t go into this field to have to function in all of these roles. We love children. We want to make positive life-changing impacts on these children. We want to TEACH.

    As a divorced single mother, I had to put my own children first.. That includes sharing the hard stuff with them. Focus on telling your child that it’s okay to sometimes be scared, in the end it makes us braver.
    Reassure her that those kids’ principal and office staff and their teachers all did everything they could to protect them. Teachers everywhere want their kids to learn to be compassionate, responsible, and secure in their own abilities as well as learning the subject matter and socialization skills. Lastly, tell her that everything happened so quickly, no one had time to even feel anything other than surprise.

  14. When Columbine happened, I was watching it unfold on TV. My grandchild came home from her first year at school. Those young minds take in a lot more than we give them credit for. Later that evening, she brought up the question. “Nana, what should I do if that happened at MY school?” I, too, explained that the shooter was a very sick person and that it probably would never happen at her school (It did not, thankfully!).. Then, I went on to explain what to do IF it did. If children know you care and feel they can talk to you about anything–they are very resilent and will bounce back. My heart and prayers go out to the people of New Town.

  15. Very well said. Thank you!

  16. Kristin Esparza says:

    Awesome job, Allison! I am sure the teachers appreciated it.

  17. Lovely letter Allison! Thank you for sharing!

  18. What a wonderful thing to do! I also feel this way about my children’s teachers, past and present, but I hadn’t thought to write them a letter. Having been a teacher and now a parent, I have been in such pain since this horrific event. I know it has shaken everyone deeply, teachers and parents alike, but I hadn’t thought to use this as a time to thank the teachers who love our children too. Thanks for sharing!

  19. Thank you for writing this. You have inspired me to write my own letter to my daughter’s teachers.. since I agree with you that we don’t say “thank you” enough.

  20. I loved this post so much I shared it with my readers for my biweekly series, Lots of Link Love. This was beautifully written, thank you for sharing with the blog world.


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