Honoring the Academic Honors Program
The reason for letters from teachers at the end of the academic school year is not just for parents. It is also for the purpose of encouraging and rewarding the students who went after the most rigorous and advanced courses of study while attending this school. However, additionally, in this case, I have to admit it is also for the teacher.
You see, prior to this year, I believed, as did others on our staff, that we could recommend and hand pick prior to the semester those who are best suited to excel in the limited academic honors programs offered. I believed that past grades were an indication of future grades, and that we would somehow know which students were on the course for college by measuring past performance and test scores. Yes, I used to think differently on these issues, until this year.
This year, we have seen past test scores overcome by motivation, awards won against all odds and statistics, and opportunities presented that by no stretch of the imagination could have existed for these students just 12 months ago. I would love to take credit for this, but I cannot. All I can do is commend the effort, and recognize that I have learned as much as they have. These students have proven that some things cannot be measured or predicted without taking into account determination and the sheer will of the human spirit, and I have to say I am as proud of that fact right now as I am to have taught these young men and women this year.
I now believe that most students should be encouraged to go after an honors program, and that there should not be a limit of who does and who doesn't get in at the beginning of the year, as long as they are ready and willing to try. Of course, if admission to an academic honors program turns out to be counterproductive after the fact for a particular student, then they should move to where they can have the most appropriate learning experience—but I no longer believe that I or anyone else will know who will or will not rise to that occasion.
The reason the honors program is offered, is to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of the students who are participating. The students who have the ambition and desire to go after these challenges are therefore recognized and admired, giving them greater opportunities. One of the biggest benefits and reasons for having the honors program is to give students the chance to advertise a resume for college applications and future jobs. It can give them final transcript recognition, diploma recognition, ceremonial recognition, and more.
The thing that makes this academic honors program different is how demanding the classes can be. A student is required to keep up with all the material that is presented in the class at a much faster pace than normal. The work that is required isn't too much more overwhelming than that of a regular class, but does need a lot more understanding of the subject. Also more thought and study needs to go into it, and the overall projects tend to be more involved because they lean more towards research problems.
Usually the requirements are different for each department. Each normally includes a requirement to finish a research paper or project that is identical to a college thesis, the enrollment into a unique honors course, and enrollment into a college course or college seminar. The honors program pushes students to learn from each other, discipline themselves with their approach, and to master their studies. I am proud to say that each and every one of these students has risen to that occasion, and I hope you are as proud of them as I am for their achievements this year. I wish you all the best of luck, and I am happy to say that I wholeheartedly believe if your children are the future, then we are indeed in good hands.
See more parent letters from teachers at the end of the school year samples here.
Photo Credit: Joanne Johnson