Dear Jess



I’ve been at this work, this calling, for 27 years.  I love it.  I love being with children.  I love working with parents to understand their own child’s strengths and weaknesses. I love watching children grow and learning from them.  I love learning myself, outgrowing myself, pushing myself, and growing passions.

All that growing and learning I strive for doesn’t always come from within, I need people to push me.  I am thankful that you are there to push me, push my thinking, remind me that the energy for teaching comes from learning and connecting with each other.

I have always believed myself a writer, long before I ever knew you existed, I had kept a journal, went to many institutes, including a few with Donald Graves, Tom Newkirk, Ralph Fletcher and Maureen Barbieri.   I attended the University of New Hampshire, TC, NCTE.  I wrote PTA grants to study writing and writing process.  But over the years, I began to keep it myself, not out of selfishness but because I was missing that person who shared the belief and passion of teacher as writer, the belief and passion of a teacher researcher.

Yesterday, in the middle of a stream of texts about a million different things, you said you were “trying to comment on 50 slices during nap time.  For the challenge.”  At that point yesterday, I hadn’t read much. I was in a writing kinda mood.  But then, this morning, your words lingered and I began reading and tallying.  Unknowingly, you pushed me to take the challenge.

Last year, you worked a few teachers out of a problem grew their teaching through a simple, yet powerful structure.  Your idea has permeated my work with kids and teachers throughout this year.  The planning for Guided Reading, which, I have written about and talked about, really has pushed me to live my belief that we are all responsible for teaching all the children.

You heard that a child that I work with was striving to produce writing during Writer’s Workshop. You shared your conversation with the classroom teacher about that writer with me.  Together, we talked.   We know that our consistent language and approach with that child and the teacher has such potential to make a difference for one writer. Your work as a collaborative coach to informs my work every single day.

I’d like to believe that we push each other.  “Our” group, Teachers Who Write, that has met for the past three summers has been a collaborative venture for us.  Bringing people together, voluntarily, over the summer, in the name of teaching and learning only adds to our school community.  It bolsters teacher learning through writing.  It bolster teachers experiencing writing for themselves in the hopes they’ll become wiser teachers of writers.  It supports ongoing teaching and learning.

So today, I write to you, Jess, to say thank you.  Thank you for being you.  Thank you believing in me.  Thank you for hearing my history, my story and helping me grow.  Thank you for helping me stay energized, and passionate about both teaching and learning.


Now, I’ll go back to reading more slices, try to hit that 50 by midnight tomorrow.  I know you’ll hit 50.  Maybe one of us will win the prize and we can share.





11 thoughts on “Dear Jess”

  1. You and Jess are inspirational to me. I love watching your partnership through your posts and comments. You’re lucky to have each other, but you only have each other because you are both who you are, so it’s more than luck.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dawn! I couldn’t do what I do without you. Everything you wrote goes right back to you. Your my springboard for crazy ideas and my push to execute. You give me courage and I’m grateful we’re on the same team every day. I know how lucky we are. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dawn, this is such a beautiful tribute to Jess, and also to the friendship and partnership you two have – as teachers, as writers, and as people. You two inspire me and so many others. You have such positive energy, and your love of, and belief in, children and the work you do to help them is contagious. I’m so lucky to work with both of you.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Dear Dawn and Jess –
    I’m grateful to have caught the first glimpse of the makings of this dynamic duo. You inspired me those first two years and those teachings and that collaboration stayed with me still, three years later and many, many miles West of you. Your reach now extends to my fourth graders here in Colorado. I love that I can send you a quote, reach out for clarity on a topic or simply celebrate each other from afar! Our students are better for this connection. Thank each of you for loving what you do. It’s contagious!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Such a beautiful and genuine letter. I remember when Jess left KHS, I said you’ll love Dawn! I am so glad you two have banded together to nurture yourselves, students, teachers, and so many others in our district and beyond.Glad I am joining you for something every day this month.

    Liked by 1 person

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