March 13, 2010 Dear Mrs. Fortin, I was in your 4th grade class at Market Street School in 1975. I am currently enrolled in a Masters of Education Program at the University of Southern Maine and will graduate from the ETEP (Extended Teacher Education Program) program in May 2010. I was given the assignment of writing a letter to the best teacher I have ever had: Mrs. Dot Fortin I always felt safe and loved in your classroom. You had, and still have, such charisma and charm; I can still picture your smile and hear the sound of your laughter. I felt all the children in your classroom were your favorites and you treated us all with special care, engaged each student, preserved our dignity, highlighted our strengths and created scaffolds to improve our weaknesses. I was motivated to learn because you presented such practical, hands on activities which were often exciting and interesting. You showed us how to explore, question and discover without letting on that you were giving us some of the most important tools we would need and use to find our own path in life. I was motivated to go to school and to succeed in your class. You listened with your heart and were responsive to our needs whether it was in the classroom, at recess or at home. You made a difference in my life, the person I am today was influenced by the most powerful gift a teacher can give; you gave of yourself. When I reflect on your gifts as my teacher, I only now realize the extent of your giving: the researching for valuable information, the lugging of all the stuff needed for hands on activities, the begging and borrowing for supplies, the hours of correcting, the hours of planning and the powerful act of caring and giving. When I teach, I hope I can model what I learned from you. I strive to continue passing on your gifts to my students in the future. I have ten brothers and sisters and felt lost in the crowd at home and in other classrooms. You were one of the few teachers who knew me and recognized my academic strengths and weaknesses. I learned so much in your classroom and these are just a few: the multiplication table, letter writing project, the life cycle of chickens, the incubation and hatching of chicks and ducklings, how to carve, paper mache, apple head dolls, ivory snow candles, student group learning, the love of reading and being read to, getting along with other students, and the love of learning. You even generously opened your home for a wonderful classroom picnic. My two children are the best part of my life and I joined their classrooms as a volunteer. I loved teaching and working with children and I found my teaching style was most effective when I modeled your teaching style, using hands on exploratory learning and creating student visuals and models. Thank you for changing my life’. Warmest regards, Lila Theriault Cancelarich

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