Letter to My Old AP English Teacher
Motivation for this Hub
Below is a letter I recently wrote and sent to my old AP English Teacher from high school. Although I am not in the teaching or English profession, I have found great success in my career in Investment Management due to my writing skills. I make no effort to claim that I am a master of grammar or punctuation but I feel that I have a knack for taking complex topics and finding a way to convey them in a concise and succinct manner so that most people will understand.
I was recently promoted due partly to my polished business writing skills and I attribute those skills to my AP English teacher from high school. It has been nearly 7 years since I took that class but the lessons, both in writing and in life, garnered from that class are invaluable. As you will read in the letter, I feel that superb educators do not get enough credit for their stellar work and ability to change the course of an adolescent’s life for the better. This hub serves as yet another venue for me to tell the world about a wonderful teacher (who is now happily retired) I had, inspire those currently teaching or thinking about teaching, and motivate young adults like myself who have had a similar experience to reach out to their old educators and let them know how much they are appreciated.
Just a housekeeping note, in the letter below I have either omitted or altered certain pieces of personal information. None of these alterations should make a material difference.
Dear Mr. C
I contacted LS in the English Department at (my old high school) in hopes of getting your email address/contact information. I'm not sure if you remember me but I graduated with the class of 2002 and I count myself as one of the lucky students who had the opportunity to take your AP English class (even though I think I finished in the middle of the pack). To help give you a frame of reference, I graduated with and ran with the likes of (names of some of my friends). You were also instrumental in influencing my decision to attend (a Top 25 National University according to US News).
Whether you remember me or not is not the point of this email. I wanted to contact you to thank you for providing such a high level of material and for making such a large impact on my life and career. Just to give you some background knowledge, after graduating from (old high school) I attended (the University) and graduated with a BS degree in Finance in 2006. Since that time I have started a career within the Institutional Investment Management field in (Southeastern US city). Recently, I received a promotion within my firm due partly to the fact that the partners like and more importantly, trust my business writing. Though I can not make any promises for this email, to this day I try to avoid using the dreaded helping verbs in anything I write. Even as I write this email at the age of 26 I feel the same high school feelings of anxiety over whether or not my grammar is correct. But if you are willing to excuse the mistakes you are probably seeing now, I’ll move on to the point.
I want to let you know that no other teacher at (old HS) or professor at (University) made more of an impression and impact on my life and career than you did. For whatever reason, I had my “ah-ha” moment in your class. Whether it was because you were the first educator to knock me down a peg (and there were plenty who followed at (University)) or if it was your ability to make the material accessible while at the same time challenging, for some reason everything kind of clicked. I realized that no matter what field one might pursue, the inability to write or speak well will ultimately lead to outright failure, or failure to reach optimal potential. How can you call yourself a good surgeon if you cannot succinctly communicate directions to nurses, console patients and relatives, or effectively communicate your research ideas to colleagues? How can you succeed as an engineer if you can not accurately explain the planning of a city or design of a million dollar piece of equipment? The same reasoning applies to my chosen field. To me, before your class, English was just another separate subject like Biology and History. But after taking your class, I realized that mastering English was important and that it would be applicable to basically everything. To me, that realization was extremely powerful and I believe it has a direct correlation to any success I experience.
In my promotion meeting, the partners specifically addressed my writing skills as one of the reasons why I was distinguished from my peers. The written materials and presentations I am now responsible for are shown to and read by boards of multi-billion dollar pension funds, foundations, municipalities, and university endowments as they evaluate asset managers to manage funds. In some cases, my writing serves as the first impression/introduction of our firm to those consultants and funds not yet familiar with us. My writing has the potential to either help attract millions of dollars in new assets or, if done poorly, paint my firm as unprofessional, unpolished, and ultimately not trustworthy enough to manage money. I am now instrumental in the process of taking complex macroeconomic, political, and financial themes, converting them into a digestible, easy to understand format, and communicating that information to current and potential clients. I divulge all of this information not to boast, but to attribute these abilities to your teaching.
I feel spectacular teachers do not receive enough accolades from students, teachers, and alumni. While this letter seems a bit late, I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you and acknowledge the fact that teachers like you are extremely rare. I truly feel sorry for current AP English students at (old HS) who will never have the chance to learn from you. They will miss out on potentially life altering lessons. I hope you are doing well and are happy in retirement. I hope it is fulfilling to know that your life’s work has had such a huge impact on at least one (but I suspect it’s a lot more) of your student’s lives, thanks.