A Letter to My Daughter


Educators often think of graduation as the measure of our success.  It’s the moment we’ve been working for since that first day our students arrived at Kindergarten Round-up.

But I think we are wrong.  I think this week is actually that moment.  My social media feeds are full of pictures of teary-eyed parents and nervous young adults unpacking cars, hauling mini-fridges, and sporting new college gear.

I think the measure of our success really starts this week.  As our children head off to college, we get to find out if they are, in fact, “college and career ready”.

When we watch the seniors cross the stage at graduation, we hope that we have prepared them to be successful in whatever their next steps may be.  This week, as we send them off to Basic Trainings and Freshman Orientations, to first days at new jobs or to dorm rooms and apartments, we get to find out if we succeeded.

For you, my daughter, I think we did.

There are so many things I want for my kids.  Sometimes when I say “my kids”, I really mean my students.  But this week, I am talking about you and your sister.

So what do I hope for you?

I hope you are creative and collaborative.

I hope you are willing to take risks.

I hope you persevere when things get hard because there will be times when things get hard.

Mostly though, I hope you enjoy your life.

I want you to celebrate who you are and not devote time to comparing yourself to others.  Comparison is so often a source of frustration and disappointment.  It’s what we do to ourselves that makes us feel like less.  There will always be someone smarter, someone cuter, someone wealthier.  But there will never be another you.  The only person you ever need to compare yourself to is the you from the day before.

Reflect.  Learn.  Grow.

I want you to avoid judging other people.  That’s what we do that makes others feel like less.  There are few things you can be that are more important than being kind.  “We are how we treat each other and nothing more.” (Alternate Routes)

Content matters.  It’s important that you can write well and that you can make meaning of what you read.  You have number sense, and you understand our history.  All of that matters.  But without the rest of it, without the life skills, you would not be able to become who I know you are destined to be.

I am so proud of who you are right now.  I always have been.  I always will be.  I have faith that you are college and career ready. I am grateful for all of the teachers and administrators and family members and friends who helped shape you.  But mostly this week I am just grateful for you.

This is a hard week for all of us who are sending our babies off to college…maybe harder than when we started you on this journey in kindergarten.  But it is also a celebration.  This week we measure our success!