Back to School Letter–Draft

August 4, 2014
I am so very excited to start the school year and look forward to working with each of you. Starting a
new school year is just as exciting for me as your teacher as it is for you. I think you will find that I am relaxed
in class and enjoy laughing with students. We all spend a lot of time together, so I believe it is important that
we enjoy being with each other.
Students often ask me certain questions about myself, so I think I will just go ahead and answer them for
you. I am 40 years and will turn 41 in November. I’ve been married just over a year and now have three
stepchildren who are 16, 14, and 11. Around the room are pictures of kids who are either my niece and nephew
or my stepchildren. I went to Shorter College for my undergraduate degree and have graduate degrees from
Kennesaw State University, Georgia State University, and Samford University. My doctorate is in educational
leadership, so my doctorate doesn’t mean that I am a medical doctor. You can call me Dr. Williams; however,
many students call me Doc, so that is an option for you if you prefer.
I am often asked why I want to teach middle school like middle school is a horrible place to be. I LOVE
teaching middle school. During the three years that you are here, you will learn so much more than just the
content in the classes you attend. You will learn how to get along with others, how to problem solve, how to
appreciate those who are different from you, how to take risks, and how to be self-confident. There is so much
that you need to learn while at Dickerson, and I really enjoy helping you learn as much as possible.
I think that I have the best family ever. My parents have been married since 1966 and have set a
wonderful example for my husband and me. The past few years have been difficult because I lost my older
brother to cancer. Throughout his illness, he amazed me with his positive attitude and fighting spirit. We are
all still healing, but we are very thankful that we have each other and have learned the importance of telling our
loved ones, “I love you.”
I find pleasure in many things. Some of my favorite things are Georgia football, ACC basketball,
Braves baseball, Falcon football, Diet Mt. Dew, M & M’s, dogs, country music, Vera Bradley, the mountains,
and “So You Think You Can Dance.” I have a miniature black and tan dachshund named Lizzie, a total cuddle
baby and always wants to be in my lap. We also have two black cats, Raven and Jabba, as in Jabba the Hutt.
The cats and Lizzie don’t seem to know they aren’t supposed to get along. Instead, they can often be found
curled up together. Since getting married, I take my stepdaughter to get our nails done which is a great thing for
her because it is an escape from her older brothers. My husband has helped me hang several bird feeders. I
thoroughly enjoy watching the different birds that have found the feeders—gold finch, nuthatches, chickadees,
purple finches, and others. I have found myself sitting at the table just staring out the sliding glass door.
Dickerson has been a part of my life for many years. After attending Mt. Bethel, I attended 6th and 7th
grade here before moving to Illinois for 8th grade and high school. Although moving is sometimes difficult, I
loved the excitement of a new state, town, and school. Most of my life up until that point was spent right down
the road from Dickerson, so I decided to look at moving as an adventure. As much as I enjoyed living in
different places, I am so very glad to be back in Marietta and at Dickerson. It is a special school with very
special people. I can’t imagine being anywhere else.
My feelings about moving in middle school carry over to my love for traveling. I have been to
Germany, Korea, France, Finland, Russia, Denmark, Estonia, Sweden, Turkey, Canada, and places around the
United States. This summer, my husband and I took a cruise from Boston to Montreal where we were able to
visit places I had never been to before. We took his children for several weeks to Bethany Beach, Delaware; we
are very lucky to have a family member with a condo on the beach there. I am not sure there is anything better
than sitting on the balcony looking out over the ocean as the waves crash onto shore. I think that it is very
important for people to travel because it allows us to learn about other cultures and people as well as to develop
a better understanding of the world as a whole. There are many other cities and countries that I want to visit. I
look forward to those adventures. We are throwing around the idea of an Alaskan cruise with the kids next
summer. We will see.
I remember that being a kid can be difficult. I don’t remember thinking that I was being bullied, but I do
remember being teased about my weight. I wasn’t super heavy, but I was definitely heavier than most students.
Other kids would make off-hand remarks thinking they were being funny. My feelings were hurt by the little
comments made, and although I don’t think the other kids knew they were hurting my feelings, I still remember
wondering why they couldn’t just be nice. When I moved to Illinois, I was teased about my southern accent.
Again, the other kids thought they were being funny, but it really hurt my feelings and made me feel selfconscious. These feelings were not good ones, so I hope that you are all kinder to each other and take care not
to say or do things that might make other students feel badly about themselves because we should treat each
other as we want to be treated at all times. None of us should ever want to hurt another, and we need to realize
that our words and actions sometimes have unintended consequences.
My work experience is pretty varied. I have worked at the district level and have been an elementary
and middle school principal. I taught fourth and fifth grade before teaching elementary Target. In the middle
school, I have taught 6th, 7th, and 8th grade. My favorite job though is that of a classroom teacher. I like to
study history; however, I really, really enjoy teaching language arts because it is a subject that allows you to
express yourself through words and because what you learn in class will be used throughout your life. No
matter what job you have or how old you are, you will always need the skills we study in class so that you can
learn new material and so that you can communicate clearly with your future spouse, children, boss, employees,
etc. It is vital that you grow your language arts skills this year and in the future.
In closing, I have high expectations of each of you. I realize that each of you comes with your own
strengths and weaknesses, but it is my job to help each of you grow. I expect you to do your best and to always
try. I don’t get mad if you don’t get something, but I often will make you work through the problems yourself
because I believe that you will learn more from the struggle than you will if I give you the answers. This may
be frustrating for you but know that I do it for a reason. I am here to help you and to guide you, but you alone
are responsible for your learning.
I read a great deal of professional materials over the summer and one thing really stuck with me. The
author of one of the books said that students should write four times as much as I grade. I really believe that to
be a better writer, you must write and write often. This means that everything you write won’t be written for a
grade but for practice and for you to develop your style and craft.
Your job now is to write me a letter introducing yourself. Your letter need not be as long as mine, but I
do want you to paint a picture of yourself using words. I want to know who you are and what you like. I would
love to know what you think of language arts. Don’t tell me you love it to be nice. Be honest about what you
like and dislike about language arts. Feel free to tell me what you think your strengths and weaknesses are as a
language arts student. f you have any areas that you really want to focus on, let me know that, too.
Again, I am excited about the school year and can’t wait to get to know each of you better. Thank you
in advance for sharing about yourself in your letter. I know it can be difficult to share with someone you don’t
know, but I appreciate your efforts.
Dr. Williams “Doc”