Caroline in the Delta

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Aug 19 2012

Dear Successful Stranger // Dear Sixth Grader —Your help requested!

UPDATE: As of Friday, at 12:15am, I have 158 volunteers. This is a solid 28 more than I asked for, which was already 10 more volunteers than students. I haven’t broken down the male to female ratio of volunteers to students yet (I prefer to keep genders the same), but if I need more people– it’s the males that I need most.

Because so many people signed up, I’m thinking of reaching out to my former students (now 7th & 8th graders) and asking if they’re interested in a pen-pal crew that could meet once a week at McDonald’s and write to the rest of those signed up.

Thank you, so, so, much for all the re-posts, re-tweets, facebook pushes, and kind words. I’m so impressed with humanity and so so excited to pitch this to my students. Expect more updates soon!


Yesterday, while writing my first unit plan, I had a jarring idea that is only possible with this blog, facebook, college degrees, and about 300 stamps.

The Idea:

Using the internets, find roughly 130 working (take that word liberally: school, art, retail, law, all are acceptable) adults (that’s you, reader!) who are willing to spend about 30 minutes and $5 to inspire one of my students.

Each student will write a “Dear Stranger” letter to one of these adults (you). My students will describe themselves, their surroundings, their dreams, and their lives. In response (and only in response… you’ll get one first), an adult will write back about (handwritten or typed, but all snail mail) what s/he remembers of sixth grade, what college, trade school, or working life has been like so far, and give advice for my students as they begin their last years in our elementary school.

And the $5? Because let’s be real, free swag means the world to students. If possible, I’d also ask you to  spend no more than $5 on one small trinket from your alma mater or current work place. It could be a pencil, lanyard, pen, sticker, folder, whatever you can manage. This part might be removed if it’s too much of a convenience barrier for writers. (No money to me or kids, just you spending a few dollars to give something tangible kids can proudly tote around to remind them of future success.)

Is 30 minutes and a stamp something you can manage?

If you’re interested in helping me with this project (please be interested! please!), then fill out this form showing your interest. I’ll be in touch within a week with a status update.

Again, I need about 130 people. As much as I love TFA, I’d prefer to not have majority corps members participate, so please pass the form address and this blog post to any and all working professionals you know! I want as much diversity in workforce and current location as possible, but that doesn’t mean current teachers shouldn’t volunteer… just spread the word!

Thanks so much in advance.
Keeping my fingers crossed something amazing’s about to come of this.

31 Responses

  1. CY

    I’m confused about the $5. You are asking these people to give your students $5? I’m forwarding this along to my friends.

    • Thanks for asking for clarification! I’m going to edit the post after this comment…

      The $5 is just that the volunteers can/would be willing to SPEND $5 on a tiny, practical gift and mail it to the students. No money to me, no money to kids, but something tangible that the kids can be proud of.

      It’s just an idea, and I’m not sure I’m going to do it, but I wanted to put it out there now and get feedback– so thanks for the feedback! ;)

  2. Cindy

    I’m in . . .

  3. Whitney

    Is this an ongoing exchange of letters or just a one time thing?

    • Ideally on-going, probably exchanging four letters through the course of the school year.

  4. Megan

    Sounds inspirational for not only the kids, but the adults too! I’d love to do this!

  5. Marcy

    Count me in. I’m a sixth grade special educator in Massachusetts and love creative ideas that help students learn. Any opportunity to get kids writing is wonderful. My husband is a mechanical engineer so you can get two for the price of one email. :>)

  6. Whitney

    I passed this on to my mom in Michigan, she is an educator and will share with her colleagues at work—Teacher’s and other’s alike.

  7. Sounds fun. I loved having pen pals as a kid.

  8. I have a few t shirts that say dream without limits and faith over fear on them could you email me: [email protected] and let me know if I can send 2 or 3 shirts out to a few students.

  9. Jill

    Would you be interested in a successful college student? I have someone in mind that has overcome some challenges.

  10. I’m an entrepreneur in Silicon Valley. Brilliant idea. Count me in.

    • Silicon Valley entrepreneur?! Does it get better than that??

  11. I’m interested in helping!!!

  12. I am in!

  13. I’m in! I’m a digital marketing and business development consultant. I also blog. We need more women mentors.

  14. Gwen Goudeau

    I’d love to be a part of this. I am 23 years old and am currently a getting my Master’s Degree at Full Sail University in Entertainment Business. I received my undergrad in public relations from Louisiana State University. I currently intern at Chatter Buzz Media, a digital marketing firm in the Orlando, FL area. Please let me know what I can do to help!

  15. When will we hear from you?

    • Today! Right now! Check your email, and sorry for the delay!

  16. Gella Spencer

    Just sent my package off, full of goodies for your students and a letter as well. GREAT idea!!

  17. Yes!!!

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