Unbeknownst to him at the time, Darion Williams solved my dilemma about how to write a centennial year-end post. I just couldn’t bring myself to write the words pandemic, unprecedented, pivoted, or uncertain to mark the close of 2020. Yesterday I was copied on this letter to Advising Director Teresa Steinkamp and the essential message became clear.
Good Afternoon Teresa,
I just wanted to say thanks for everything. This semester has been one of the toughest both mentally and physically. Your kindness, compassion, and dedication and your constant support over the years has been amazing. I don’t know that I could be as successful as I am without you and the Foundation’s unwavering support.
As I write this email I do so having finished my last final as an undergraduate. I’m set to begin student teaching in a few short weeks and will graduate in five months. I never thought I would be this close. There always seemed to be some obstacle too big to overcome, I often felt as if I had to do it alone. If I have learned anything, the most important is that I am not alone. There have always been people standing beside me, cheering me on, and ready and willing to help.
You have affirmed my decision to be an educator as you yourself have educated me — letting me know that failing an assignment, class, or whatever is not the end of the world, only an obstacle that I could overcome with help. I have finally realized that I can’t (and shouldn’t) do it on my own. You were always willing and ready for whatever I needed. I will ensure my students know the same about me. You cared enough to always answer an email, phone call, or text. I know that is what I must do, be what my students need, whether it is a counselor to get them through a difficult situation, or an advisor to help them process academic decisions, or just someone waiting to see them succeed and offering help when they ask. You never judge, never let anything stop you from providing what your students need.
I often would hear my pastor say “Give people their roses while they are alive so that they may enjoy them”. So this is me giving you your roses. Please don’t ever change; you are what’s needed in this world. I came into the Foundation with all kinds of reservations, and ill thoughts about my worth. But you saw my potential. I truly hope that one day I can provide to others what you have for me. I will strive to pay it forward every chance I get. As I close this note, I want to tell you that I am working on completing my first application for full-time teaching next school year. I know that the district to which I’m applying is hard to get into as a first-year teacher. But I now have the confidence to step out of my comfort zone and apply and you and the Foundation are a big part of that.
Fontbonne University, Class of 2021
It is true that 100 years is a pretty big deal. But it is truer still that relationships among us matter most. Here’s to 2021, the year in which we propagate even more roses, together.
– Faith Sandler