I’ve previously written about a practice I have of periodically writing personal letters to students — particularly ones that are facing particular challenges. I place it in a sealed envelope with his/her name on it, and just give it to him/her in a matter-of-fact way. It’s been amazing to me to see the effect these letters have had.

I’ve written some this week to give to four students on Monday, and thought I’d share them here (feedback is welcome):


Dear _____,

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving!

You are a young man with many gifts:

• When you decide you want to do something, you can push out any distractions and get it done, and get it done well.
• When you want to smile, it lights up the entire room and makes everyone who sees you feel better.
• When you want to help someone, you have a talent for helping them learn how to do it for themselves and not just do it for them.
• When things might not be going great, and you are willing to open up and show how you are really feeling about something, it makes people around you want to do everything they can to help you and connect with you.

When you do these things, you become every teacher’s delight and a delight to all your classmates. When you do these things, I want to go the extra mile, and more, to help you achieve everything and anything you want to.

I hope you will want to do these things, and show your gifts, more and more.

Mr. Ferlazzo


Dear ____________,

You might be the most likeable student in the entire school.

You are always friendly and respectful.

You can go far, and I would like to help you go far.

I can’t take you there by myself, though. We need to work together.

I hope you will decide to work with me….

Mr. Ferlazzo


Dear __________,

You have said all year that you can do the work in this class.

The week before Thanksgiving you showed that this was true. You did all the work that was expected of you – even more. And you did it well.

You showed that you can be an excellent student – and can be an excellent reader and an excellent writer.

You can do it when you decide you want to do it.

I hope you decide you want to do it the rest of the school year, too.

Mr. Ferlazzo


Dear __________,

You are clearly have what’s called the “work ethic” – the commitment to work hard – and the intelligence to be a star in school, and in life.

I also appreciate your cheerfulness, and your respectful attitude. I really enjoy having you in class.

You are looked at by other students as a leader. That is a gift, and a responsibility. You are a role model.

By having all those qualities I’ve mentioned, you are a great role model.

By having a just a little more self-control, you can be a star role model.

I hope you decide to be a star.

Mr. Ferlazzo