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Excitement is HIGH in our classroom: we received letters from "our" soldiers!

Posted by Suzanne D on 11/08/02 at 11:26 (099633)

For those of you who have followed the posts I have written about my first graders 'adopting' soldiers as pen pals, I wanted to share our excitement! We have written to them twice, and today, my children each received a letter from 'their' soldier! It was like Christmas morning. We gathered around the back table in our classroom, and I handed out the letters. They read them as best as they could, and then I read each letter aloud. One of the assistants then took each child's picture holding their letter; we will include those in our next letters to them which I plan to send next week.

Some sent pictures, a few sent coins or paper money (I heard the comment, 'Wow, now I'm rich!'), and one little boy received a medal. If that soldier only knew how much that particular little boy needed that special touch. I must remember to write him that.

They were able to tell us that they are in Uzbekistan, so we have found that country on the map. I found the flag and national anthem on the internet, and we listened to that a couple of times. On the way to lunch, I played it again as we lined up. I looked back as we were going out the door and saw two little boys saluting as they went by the computer!

My favorite quote from the letters is this one: 'Mail for us is like putting sugar on your cornflakes. It's sweet to hear from someone else in America.' Isn't that beautiful? Others wrote, 'I hung it in my tent.' (speaking of the letter they received) and 'keep smiling no matter what'. Another special sentence from one of the letters was 'It was very nice to hear from some fine young patriots'. Several made references to working hard in school and growing up to do their best in everything which really made an impression. One mentioned that it sometimes is 110 degrees during the day, and we have been learning to read thermometers, so that was good for our learning.

Three soldiers took the time to write to me personally, and I was just as excited as the children when I opened my letters! My principal is now excited about our project and wants to contact the local newspaper. With Veteran's Day approaching, that might be timely.

Well, I must close for now and get back to work while the children are at P.E. I just wanted to share our excitement with you!

Suzanne :-)

Re: Excitement is HIGH in our classroom: we received letters from "our" soldiers!

BrianG on 11/08/02 at 17:05 (099643)

Good job Suzanne, on instilling a sense of patriotism in your youngsters. That was nice of the soldier to include a medal, do you happen to know which medal it was? I think it would be nice to do a story for your local newspaper. So, how far is Uzbekistan, from Iraq? I wonder if they are staging there, waiting for orders to move out? Good luck to them!

Aloha
BrianG

Re: I love reading your classroom stories !

Valerie S on 11/09/02 at 08:14 (099660)

Hi Suzanne,

I just want you to know how much inspiration you offer to me with the touching stories you share. I haven't been saying much or following the board as much lately, but I thought I would share with you the fact that I am going to return to college at the ripe old age of 32... I will be studying elementary education and pursuing my lifelong dream of becoming a teacher. I will be registering for classes again for the first time in (I think) 13 years, and will be hitting the campus in January... Wish me luck!

And THANK YOU again!

--Val.

Re: I love reading your classroom stories !

Carole C in NOLA on 11/09/02 at 08:40 (099661)

Valerie, you will be a great teacher!

Also, don't worry about returning to school after such a long hiatus; you will do just fine in college and you will love it. There are a few disadvantages to being older in college, but these are more than compensated for by the advantages that age brings us.

As an 'older student' in my mid-30's, I found there was the disadvantage of having other, higher priorities (namely, my daughter who always came first for me). Another disadvantage was that I didn't have the physical stamina (at first) so at first I was exhausted all the time, but that stamina came back after a few months.

For me there were a couple of HUGE advantages to being older. First, I knew exactly what my goals were and was able to keep focusing on them, and that's sometimes difficult for younger students who haven't had as long to think about life goals. And second, I had a better overall perspective on the subject matter; I was older and wiser, so to speak. I could see the application of theoretical material more easily than when I was younger.

As far as the ability to understand and learn the subject matter, I think you will find that it is at least as good as when you were 'the right age' for college. The older we get, the better we get.

Carole C

Re: Excitement is HIGH in our classroom: we received letters from "our" soldiers!

Suzanne D on 11/09/02 at 12:29 (099672)

Hi, Brian, and thank you. From the internet map I found, Uzbekistan's southeastern tip borders Afghanistan. From what the soldiers shared with us in the letters, I take it that they are an engineering unit who goes in and basically builds the base for other soldiers who will arrive there. They wrote of building roads, buildings, and even bookcases. They wrote of the extreme heat in the day and the coolness at night.

And they wrote of missing being at home. Two wrote that they had first grade children themselves and another sent a picture of he and his 6 year old neice who, ironically, looked very much like the little girl who received his letter! They spoke of putting the pictures and letters up on the walls of their tents. One said he is sending two dolls made by Uzbekistan women and another a DVD of their work. Another said he has sent a teddy bear which we can name. We don't know when that package may arrive, but everyone is looking forward to it. Now we will be gathering things to send them with our good wishes and prayers.

I may have called the round, bronze-colored piece a medal when it actually was not. It said sergeant on one side and had an insignia of sorts on the other. What would that be called? Whatever it was, the little boy was so thrilled. He has lots of challenges in life - learning being one of them - but he was the only one who received that and was so happy. He kept saying, 'If I put that right here (his chest), I'm a policeman!' In his mind, policeman and soldier would be very similar. Anyway, he clutched it to him throughout the day.

Yes, I think a story about the children and the soldiers would make a good article, and I want to follow up on that!

Thanks, always, for your interest.

Suzanne :-)

Re: I love reading your classroom stories !

Suzanne D on 11/09/02 at 12:32 (099673)

Thank you, Valerie, and CONGRATULATIONS on your decision to go back to school and become a teacher! That really makes me happy. I feel I know you through your posts, and I know your caring nature and 'stick-to-it-ness' will make you a great teacher!

I DO wish you luck! Feel free to e-mail me at sdennis @ hardin.k12.ky.us (without the spaces around the @) if you ever need a listening ear or help in any way!

Suzanne :-)

Re: Excitement is HIGH in our classroom: we received letters from "our" soldiers!

Necee on 11/11/02 at 08:15 (099771)

What perfect timing to get those letters right before Veterans Day.
Getting letters from those soldiers is something your students will remember for the rest of their lives. You are teaching them so much more than the ABC's.

Happy trails.....

Necee

Re: Excitement is HIGH in our classroom: we received letters from "our" soldiers!

Kari B on 11/17/02 at 21:13 (100531)

Suzanne,
Hi, I know I'm kind of late on this thread, but I just noticed that you had not gotten an answer about the item you called a medal and asked what it was actually called. My hubby is in the military and from my experience those are called 'coins'. There is a coin for every unit in the Army, I don't know about other branches of the military though. Each coin is different in appearance, shape, size, pictures, etc. and are given to the soldiers for 'a job well done'. The units usually change the appearance of the coins often so a few years from now that coin may be hard to find and only so many of them are made and given out. It is definitely a nice thing that soldier did to send the coin to your student. And I know those soldiers truly appreciated your letters!! Thank you from the wife of a soldier!!
Kari

Re: Excitement is HIGH in our classroom: we received letters from "our" soldiers!

Suzanne D on 11/18/02 at 15:27 (100582)

Thank you, Kari! I appreciate the explanation. It makes the gesture of sending the coin mean even more. And, guess what? The student who received that coin is the one I wrote about which you responded to in a thread above! Roger was so very thrilled with receiving the coin and clutched it all day. I asked him what he did with it when he got home, and he said, 'I put it where my cousin Nathan couldn't get it.' So I think it is a prized possession!

Suzanne :-)

Re: Excitement is HIGH in our classroom: we received letters from "our" soldiers!

BrianG on 11/08/02 at 17:05 (099643)

Good job Suzanne, on instilling a sense of patriotism in your youngsters. That was nice of the soldier to include a medal, do you happen to know which medal it was? I think it would be nice to do a story for your local newspaper. So, how far is Uzbekistan, from Iraq? I wonder if they are staging there, waiting for orders to move out? Good luck to them!

Aloha
BrianG

Re: I love reading your classroom stories !

Valerie S on 11/09/02 at 08:14 (099660)

Hi Suzanne,

I just want you to know how much inspiration you offer to me with the touching stories you share. I haven't been saying much or following the board as much lately, but I thought I would share with you the fact that I am going to return to college at the ripe old age of 32... I will be studying elementary education and pursuing my lifelong dream of becoming a teacher. I will be registering for classes again for the first time in (I think) 13 years, and will be hitting the campus in January... Wish me luck!

And THANK YOU again!

--Val.

Re: I love reading your classroom stories !

Carole C in NOLA on 11/09/02 at 08:40 (099661)

Valerie, you will be a great teacher!

Also, don't worry about returning to school after such a long hiatus; you will do just fine in college and you will love it. There are a few disadvantages to being older in college, but these are more than compensated for by the advantages that age brings us.

As an 'older student' in my mid-30's, I found there was the disadvantage of having other, higher priorities (namely, my daughter who always came first for me). Another disadvantage was that I didn't have the physical stamina (at first) so at first I was exhausted all the time, but that stamina came back after a few months.

For me there were a couple of HUGE advantages to being older. First, I knew exactly what my goals were and was able to keep focusing on them, and that's sometimes difficult for younger students who haven't had as long to think about life goals. And second, I had a better overall perspective on the subject matter; I was older and wiser, so to speak. I could see the application of theoretical material more easily than when I was younger.

As far as the ability to understand and learn the subject matter, I think you will find that it is at least as good as when you were 'the right age' for college. The older we get, the better we get.

Carole C

Re: Excitement is HIGH in our classroom: we received letters from "our" soldiers!

Suzanne D on 11/09/02 at 12:29 (099672)

Hi, Brian, and thank you. From the internet map I found, Uzbekistan's southeastern tip borders Afghanistan. From what the soldiers shared with us in the letters, I take it that they are an engineering unit who goes in and basically builds the base for other soldiers who will arrive there. They wrote of building roads, buildings, and even bookcases. They wrote of the extreme heat in the day and the coolness at night.

And they wrote of missing being at home. Two wrote that they had first grade children themselves and another sent a picture of he and his 6 year old neice who, ironically, looked very much like the little girl who received his letter! They spoke of putting the pictures and letters up on the walls of their tents. One said he is sending two dolls made by Uzbekistan women and another a DVD of their work. Another said he has sent a teddy bear which we can name. We don't know when that package may arrive, but everyone is looking forward to it. Now we will be gathering things to send them with our good wishes and prayers.

I may have called the round, bronze-colored piece a medal when it actually was not. It said sergeant on one side and had an insignia of sorts on the other. What would that be called? Whatever it was, the little boy was so thrilled. He has lots of challenges in life - learning being one of them - but he was the only one who received that and was so happy. He kept saying, 'If I put that right here (his chest), I'm a policeman!' In his mind, policeman and soldier would be very similar. Anyway, he clutched it to him throughout the day.

Yes, I think a story about the children and the soldiers would make a good article, and I want to follow up on that!

Thanks, always, for your interest.

Suzanne :-)

Re: I love reading your classroom stories !

Suzanne D on 11/09/02 at 12:32 (099673)

Thank you, Valerie, and CONGRATULATIONS on your decision to go back to school and become a teacher! That really makes me happy. I feel I know you through your posts, and I know your caring nature and 'stick-to-it-ness' will make you a great teacher!

I DO wish you luck! Feel free to e-mail me at sdennis @ hardin.k12.ky.us (without the spaces around the @) if you ever need a listening ear or help in any way!

Suzanne :-)

Re: Excitement is HIGH in our classroom: we received letters from "our" soldiers!

Necee on 11/11/02 at 08:15 (099771)

What perfect timing to get those letters right before Veterans Day.
Getting letters from those soldiers is something your students will remember for the rest of their lives. You are teaching them so much more than the ABC's.

Happy trails.....

Necee

Re: Excitement is HIGH in our classroom: we received letters from "our" soldiers!

Kari B on 11/17/02 at 21:13 (100531)

Suzanne,
Hi, I know I'm kind of late on this thread, but I just noticed that you had not gotten an answer about the item you called a medal and asked what it was actually called. My hubby is in the military and from my experience those are called 'coins'. There is a coin for every unit in the Army, I don't know about other branches of the military though. Each coin is different in appearance, shape, size, pictures, etc. and are given to the soldiers for 'a job well done'. The units usually change the appearance of the coins often so a few years from now that coin may be hard to find and only so many of them are made and given out. It is definitely a nice thing that soldier did to send the coin to your student. And I know those soldiers truly appreciated your letters!! Thank you from the wife of a soldier!!
Kari

Re: Excitement is HIGH in our classroom: we received letters from "our" soldiers!

Suzanne D on 11/18/02 at 15:27 (100582)

Thank you, Kari! I appreciate the explanation. It makes the gesture of sending the coin mean even more. And, guess what? The student who received that coin is the one I wrote about which you responded to in a thread above! Roger was so very thrilled with receiving the coin and clutched it all day. I asked him what he did with it when he got home, and he said, 'I put it where my cousin Nathan couldn't get it.' So I think it is a prized possession!

Suzanne :-)