Thursday, January 12, 2006

Now presenting: a selection of Thank You notes from inmates

Some of you may know that when I was in college, I worked for nine months as a teaching assistant with special ed inmates at a local prison. (I know, I know. It sounds like the set-up to a joke.) When I left I was touched to receive, by way of the fantastic teacher I worked with, a Thank You card signed by a number of these incarcerated students. I thought you might enjoy reading a few of their hand-written messages (and might I add, their penmanship--for the most part--kicks the snot out of mine):

"Ms. M (my maiden name): Stay in college and don't quit school. We really apprecieate your help. We wish you could have stayed longer. Have a nice life. O___."

(Isn't that thoughtful? I wasn't really considering quitting school at the time, given that it was my final semester, but this note sent me into an existential tailspin; thanks to O's words of encouragement, I stuck with it.)

"Ms M: You was a kind person to take your time for given us a little knowledge that you had, that we didn't have. Have a wonderful life. L___."

(I should have more strongly emphasized subject-verb agreement in class. Dammit.)

"Ms. M: Hi How are you going? Take care and a mind is a terrible thing to waste. Peace, A____, aka Tae-Rock. 'Remember' that."

(Yes Tae-Rock, a mind is definitely a terrible thing to waste. I have indeed committed it to memory.)

"Thank you, Miss M, for helping my Teacher Miss G and we is going to miss you. Your friend T_____"

(Again, subject-verb agreement. You drill and drill and drill and somehow it just doesn't sink in.)

"Miss M, Thank you for being there for us helping us accomplish some work I wish you luck and hope you achieve what you are going to school for take care and stay strong. Your friend, R____"

(This was actually the second message encouraging me to "Stay strong." These inmates must be on to something, I thought, so I began a weight-training program that summer that gave me the most sculpted shoulders of my life.)

"Dear Ms. M this is I____ writing to you for Thanks. Because you helped me a whole lot with the things I am going to need in life and you pushed for me to get my H.S.E.D. and not a lot of people would do that. thanks a lot for your support and care. I hope everything works out for the best for you. The world needs more people that cares. good luck ... and take care. I____"

(Okay, this one actually made me a little teary-eyed, until I saw the poor subject-verb agreement again. I wish I could remember what he was in for; I think it was a weapons-related charge. I hope he's no longer behind bars. But you never know.)

I for one found all of this rather cool. I usually don't get this kind of appreciation from people who haven't been charged with a crime.

I don't know. Maybe we all need some emotionally disturbed, cognitively delayed, and learning disabled inmates in our lives.


  1. Anonymous3:12 PM

    How nice that you received these. Teachers rarely get much appreciation, so it's wonderful that you got some. Teaching in the prison sounds like an interesting experience.

    By the way, my thirteen are up!

  2. I would've been teary, too, subject-verb agreement or no! Sounds like it must've been a very gratifying experience all around.

  3. It was, but I had to hold my butt really still when I wrote on the chalkboard.

  4. These are great. Glad you saved them- Who knew you'd be sharing them with the world later?

    Thanks for dropping by my blog! You're a wonderful writer. Congratulations on getting published. Wow! I look forward to reading your novel when it's released.

  5. Hey, by the way, we have way similar music tastes. Check out Mary at She loves a lot of the same groups and has also introduced me to some great new music.

  6. Thanks Lucinda! I've just discovered a few of these bands recently, and now I'm on a quest to discover more and more. (Thank God for the Internets!) As one of my prior posts indicates, they play nothing on the radio around here but 80s hair metal. Actually, strike that: even 80s hair metal isn't as bad as the stuff they play around here (Billy Squier?!?!)

  7. Anonymous12:17 AM

    Saw you on my blog, thought I'd drop over and say hi to a hello neo-pagan, unitarian, buddhist quaker :).

    And these notes have nothing on some of the evaluation comments I received from doing remedial work with twelve year olds a few years back =P.

  8. Found your blog through Manic Mom. Love you.

  9. Hi from Dorothy of the chick lit group! Nice blog!

  10. How nice! Now I know why your next novel is based on a prison! First-hand experience!

  11. That is very cool; it must feel good to make a difference in someone's life.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog, and congrats on getting published!