Letter to My Favorite Teacher

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Two Rivers

Have you ever wanted to say thank you to one of your teachers?

Submitted: January 04, 2018

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Submitted: January 04, 2018



Elkhart, Indiana

September 10, 2017


Dear Mrs. Detlef,

I wanted to write you a thank-you note.  My wife and I were watching Jeopardy, The Teacher’s Challenge, in which only teachers compete for $100,000 grand prize.  On one of the shows the master of ceremonies, Alex Trebek, asked each contestant his or her favorite teacher.  You are mine!

In grade school, it was Mrs. Johnston, my sixth-grade teacher.  What you two had in common was you both cared.  In sixth grade, I was the new kid in school, coming from not a very wholesome family life, and prone to trouble.  Mrs. Johnston took an interest in me.  She didn’t excuse me from my disciplines that were inevitable, but she helped me endure them.  Telling me I had such potential, and that I was better than this.  An elderly lady, she’d invited me to help her around her house, raking leaves, sweeping the walk, or carrying out the trash.  She would reward me with cookies.  But, mostly it was just to talk as we worked.

But, you were the one that encouraged me to write.  In my mother’s eye, no one was better than a writer.  She was always reading, wrote long letters to my siblings, and even wrote some poetry.  Somehow, she instilled in me the desire to be a writer.  But, when I finally made it to college, I was a nontraditional student taking evening courses and working midnights.  I was originally put in the remedial writing course.  However, the professor told me that I was being moved up to the standard English 101.  I was petrified.  Dr. Jacques was my professor.  She told the class on the first evening that we were very fortunate because IUSB was going to have a full professor as a tutor for English writing, you, Mrs. Detlef. 

The next day after I got off my night shift, I rushed over to campus to meet you.  I asked you why you weren’t a doctor even though you were a full professor.  You laughed and said, “I never sat for my doctoral dissertation.  Life just got in the way.” 

Our first assignment Dr. Jacques told us to write about a sports figure.  I chose Jimmy Connors.  Not that I cared that much for Mr. Connors, but I liked tennis, and he was the rising star at the time.  Every line you read from my essay you complimented me:  “That’s great; I didn’t know that; or, you have such a way with words!”  At the end of our first session, you treated me as an equal.  “Have you ever considered writing it this way?” you asked me. Before I left, I asked you if the essay was really any good.  You reached over and put a big red A on the top of the paper.  “Now, you have to rewrite it,” you said, then we both laughed. 

When I got to my car after leaving your office, I took out my paper, and read it over and over, crying my eyes out.  You, Mrs. Detlef, a full professor in English, said I was a good writer!  It was the greatest moment of my life!  Thank you, Mrs. Detlef, for believing in me.

Yours truly,



Daniel Roll


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