Mom came from a time when the art of writing letters was still tremendously important, and she was a great writer. She wrote letters throughout her entire life and sent them to politicians and to business leaders, to the newspapers where she lived, to disgruntled collection agencies, to PTA members, to friends, and — of course — to her children and family. I’ve found copies of letters she’s written to three different Presidents of the United States and they are all formatted exactly as formally as the ones she wrote to me in college.1
Mom loved being a mom. And she loved children. So after months and months of unemployment, I suggested she see if she could get involved with the school system somehow, and that maybe be could be a substitute teacher or something like that.
Here is a follow-up letter she wrote, I presume, after a job interview at Westwood Middle School:
July 24, 2008
Mr. Jim TienBig, Principal
Westwood Middle School
3215 NW 15th Avenue
Gainesville, Florida 32605
Dear Principal TienBig,
Thank you for offering me the opportunity to meet with you and Lisa last week. I am very sincere about wanting working with students, and would love the opportunity to work at Westwood Middle School.
Based on our conversation, I hope to have the chance to become a member of your teaching staff. While I do not have direct teaching experience with young students, I have years of teaching and training experience, and I have always cared about the success of my students. I will work hard with your students, and I will always be focused on their success.
I understand that you might not want to take a chance with a career changer; however, if I am selected for the substitute or any other position, I can promise you that I will do whatever it takes to meet your high standards.
I live only a few minutes from Westwood, and, as I mentioned, I took to heart the high praise Ms. Masur (I hope I have the right spelling) described.
I am highly motivated, and give 100%+ to every endeavor. I am a very fast learner, and am able to soak up knowledge quickly from those around me. I realize that you would be taking a chance on me, but I believe that you will not be disappointed.
Again, it was a pleasure to speak with you and Lisa,
Kathleen A. Gagne
1 I’m talking about printed correspondence only. She loved typewriters and word processors and formatting headers and addresses and salutations. But she also wrote beautiful handwritten letters. She wrote me a letter almost every day throughout my first year of college, and probably on average once or twice a week for the next four years I was there. I have — quite literally — dozens of boxes full of the hundreds and hundreds of letters she wrote me.