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  • Writer's pictureConvening Storytelling Team

Letter to Past Self

Image by lilartsy via Unsplash

Dear Amanda,

The time seems to be moving far too slowly as you anticipate graduation, college acceptances, and life to begin. You are eager to start over fresh and to be challenged in new ways, and I will always admire that about you. However, I am going to encourage you to slow down. Embrace these moments and opportunity to learn while your mistakes can be cushioned by the support and care of teachers who will guide you through the obstacles with the smallest amount of bruising. 

Look to Ms. M who will write you the greatest letter of recommendation, but will also remind you that where you come from does not need to define you, but can and should ground you. Keep Ms. S in mind as you become afraid of moving away from family. Her excitement for adventure and ability to keep you questioning will open a whole new world for you. Remember to thank Mr. E for giving you the space to grow and be a smart-mouthed teenager while bringing you back down to earth. His words will always remind you of your strength in the future. Think even further back to Mrs. E, who never questioned your eccentricities and made you feel welcome in all of your book obsessed ways. Of course, remember the safety of people like Ms. C. She may have had the strongest impact on keeping you focused and excited to learn. She gave you a safe haven during difficult times in your life you won't be ready to process until you're much older, but she equipped you with the tools that will help you get there. She will be present the day you graduate and will send you off to college with the optimism only a small child can hold. All of these wise words and deeply caring people are with you now but regardless of where life takes you along the way, their lessons will resonate far into your adulthood. 

They will lend themselves to the passion you devote to young people. Their words will carry you through the hours of lesson planning and adjusting, the ache of worry for your students, and they will be the driving force to always push to be, give, and do better. The lessons you are learning now will be what helps you shape the curriculum and the content, but more importantly will give you the foundation for a love to learn and help others find that love too. You will recreate class lessons you experienced along the way as you prepare students like you to strive for whatever their minds can imagine. You will find frustration when you feel your students deserve more and this will push you to show them as many possibilities as you can muster. These students push back, but will grow and sometimes they will even thank you for challenging them to do more. 

At times you will question if what you are doing is enough. The answer many times will be no. There are too many factors that impede on their lives and in our society’s ability to give them every tool and support they need. However, you will be able to continue learning and growing as you challenge existing systems and work alongside people who also want more for the students. You will be able to give a voice in situations you can't imagine now and help others to find their voices at the same time. It will not always be easy but it will be worthwhile. And while yes, it will be challenging and sometimes it will be scary to start fresh, just remember the eagerness you carry now. That feeling of excitement of having a clean slate and being pushed to give more will come up every single day as you allow students to come as they are and you challenge them to realize how absolutely incredible they are. After all, your love of learning and growing is what I admire most about you. 


Amanda, 15 years later



Amanda Hernandez


Amanda Hernandez is the Career Pathways Coordinator at New Legacy Charter School. She was born and raised in Denver and is passionate about helping young adults in our community with their future planning. She has worked with nonprofits doing just this for over eight years. She strongly believes that access to tools, resources, and knowledge is pivotal in helping students realize their goals. Her teachers and coaches helped guide her to a Bachelor's in Sociology from Harvard College and she is grateful to be able to give back to her own students.

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