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Letters of encouragement: One teacher goes above and beyond to inspire students

April 12, 2019

Across Hillsborough County Public Schools, teachers did many things to help students feel confident as they prepared to take the Florida Standards Assessments (FSA).

Some left candy or trinkets on their students’ desks. Others asked parents to write letters to their children and surprised them before they took the exam.

But Aviva Baker, a fourth grade teacher at Jackson Elementary, went even beyond that. She took the time to write an individual letter to each one of her students.

“They know that I believe in them,” said Mrs. Baker. “Every year, I think I’m never going to do it again because it takes so much time. I’m not really crafty so each letter I have to transpose and it takes a long time to think about what you want to say to that student.”

It’s a simple act that had a huge impact on students like Terrence.

“Our teacher believed in us,” he said. “She pushed us hard and pushed us to the limit. She did that so we could pass the FSA.”

“I feel like students work really hard to get prepared for the FSA and while we often time give them candy or things you can buy at the store, I wanted to give them something special,” said Mrs. Baker.

While it is hard work to write letters to all her students, she feels rewarded when they not only pass the FSA but excel in the future.

“Every year, I run into a former student that tells me they still have the card I gave them,” said Mrs. Baker. “Some have pulled it out of their wallet or purse on the spot and that just makes me feel so good.”

Some students need a little extra encouragement and support in order to shine in the classroom. That’s why it’s so important that Mrs. Baker makes them all feel special.

“As educators, we’re not only teaching them writing and reading but we’re teaching them that people care for them, which they sometimes don’t get,” she said. “I’m here to make to make sure that they know they’re loved and that they can trust outside of their family.”

Do you know of a teacher, student or program that deserves recognition? Let us know and we will promote their story!

Contact Shannon Valladolid: Shannon.Valladolid@sdhc.k12.fl.us.

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