Letter To A Teacher — James G. Piatt
Do you know I can’t see the board from the back of the room because I need glasses, but my mom can’t afford to buy them? I really want to learn those important things you write on the board, but I am afraid to sit in the front with all of your good kids. I want to tell you why I wear the same clothes every day too, and only eat breakfast every other day. I am too ashamed though. Teacher, please don’t call on me again today. You know I don’t know the answers. I know you must not like me or you wouldn’t question me every day. I know you don’t like me or you wouldn’t look at me that angry way. I sit in the back of the room to escape your questioning. Each day I pray you will not see me, pray you won’t ask me questions. I die a little bit every time you call my name. I die a little bit every day I enter your class too, knowing you will ask me questions and get angry when I don’t know the answers. Do you wonder why I never know the answers?
Do you know that I am poor and have to work everyday after school to help my mom pay rent on a one-room apartment in the bad part of town? Do you know that I have to cook dinner, and take care of my little brothers and sisters too? Do you know that I am ashamed to eat free lunches at school, even though I am always hungry?
I know I would not be afraid if you would like me and smile at me when I enter your classroom. I want to learn, teacher, but I am tired when I come to school. I am not really a bad person teacher. I am just tired, ashamed, and afraid.
I know you don’t like me because my mom never comes to PTA meetings, or open houses, or to parent conferences. She has to work day and nights in motels and can’t get off. She works real hard, but has a hard time coping with life. She is tired, ashamed, and afraid too, just like me. I guess we are losers, just like all those people say. I guess I will just stay home from school. I won’t bother you then and you won’t have to get angry when I can’t answer your important questions. Will you miss me?