Student Appreciation

In honor of Teacher Appreciation week, we are featuring a reversal as guest writer, Ms. Valerie Woodfill, expresses her appreciation for her students.


Ms. Woodfill, Guest Writer

This week, while we appreciate our teachers, I want to honor and pay respect to my Academy of Health and Healthier Communities (AHHC) students, past and present. This past year, as COVID settled down like a heavy weight on all of us, we all know that those with pre-existing mental health issues have suffered even more. My 13-year old daughter was one of those unfortunate souls and I found myself in dire straits, trying to find her a residential treatment center that took my insurance. Otherwise, I’d have to pay $20,000 a month for her to get the treatment she so desperately needs. When I sent out a GoFundMe to help cover the costs that I began to believe would fall to me, I had intended for the GoFundMe to go to anonymous rich donors who may need a charitable tax write-off. I had no idea my current and former students would see the post. But, my students gathered around me like penguins surrounding the cold ones inside their waddle. I began to see the outpouring of support flood in, with notes of inspiration and donations from young people who have so little money to give. Then, I received a slideshow presentation from my current students, who I had never even met in person! Each slide contained a note of appreciation for me and my teaching and words of encouragement for my daughter and me. I was overwhelmed with the feeling of love and support being shared with me by such tender-hearted teenagers.

In the following weeks, I also received a Padlet from a teacher who is currently teaching my former students and the “card” was full of notes of support and love. And then, a former student showed up at my door (as arranged by my oldest daughter who befriended her on Instagram) with a basket full of goodies from about 15 of my former students. The basket contained flowers, candles, snacks, lotions, and a bunch of cards. I was, again, overwhelmed by the outpouring of love. I have never felt so cared for in my life. I cry just remembering these moments.

Then, I came across an article written in a newspaper titled “Why Kids Need More than GPA and Test Scores” in which the author made the claim that young people today are being taught that scores and grades are more important than learning life skills such as empathy, integrity, self-control, and perseverance. I instantly knew this author was NOT writing about my students at Hoover High School! I cringed at her words as I read, ““The truth is we’ve raised a generation of children who is really great at reaching for that brass ring. They’re achieving, studying, and working hard. [But] science says that character qualities are often equally important to academic success as peak performance, and are core to resilience…. When kids are missing character strengths, their development is incomplete and so they often don’t succeed… In short, they turn out like beautifully wrapped packages that are missing the gifts inside.” Then, I remembered the outpouring of empathy that my current and former students recently showed me and my daughter and I felt so much pride to work alongside you amazing young people. I have hope for our world and for our future because of you all. Thank you so much for your love and support, AHHC students. You are all shining light in a world that can seem so dark at times.


Ms. Woodfill