Many of you know that I am retiring from teaching in the public school system this year. I wanted to write you a letter and tell you what you mean to me. It is difficult, because words cannot really express that adequately. Being your art teacher has been a profound and wonderful experience. It has given me great joy to share my love of the arts and creative expression with you. I know there have been times when I was not at my best. I hope that in my humanness and in my mistakes you will learn how to give yourself permission to make mistakes, to learn, to grow, and to be a better person along the way. You have shaped me as a person in more ways than you know. I have always said to you that even though I have the title of “teacher” and you are my “students”, you teach me every day. You challenge me to grow, to be a better person. I thank you for that. I encourage you to continue to seek out your own individual creative expression, whether it is through music, dance, or the visual arts. Find your way. Try new things. See what fits for you. When you feel afraid, take a deep breath and lean into it. Have the courage to be who you are. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for what you need. Hold hands. Be kind. Remember that art is the place where you can become more like yourselves instead of more like everyone else. One of my favorite quotes is by a woman named May Sarton. She said, “We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.” I love you all!