To the anonymous student: thank you

I am an 8th grade health teacher in a junior high school. It counts as high school credit and is a school of just 8th and 9th grade students. It has its challenges but overall I love the subject that I teach. I truly believe it is a subject area where students can be reached on a personal level and can have a lasting impact on them. Mind you, I have been teaching for 7 years: five years at the 6th grade level and this my second year at the 8th grade. The attitude of most 8th grade students are ones of frustration, entitlement, boundary pushing, as well as low self-esteem, trying to figure out who they are, and fitting in. I see the struggles they face on a daily basis and I try to be aware of the things they may be facing. Most students give me a head time and do not understand what I am trying to do for them. It can be very discouraging and it is no wonder why teaching is such a hard career to begin with. We are often bashed in the media and told we are not important and the kids see that. They do not think teachers care about them and I believe this is a direct result of the lack of teachable moments and constantly being spread so thin it is impossible to reach the kids if it is not being tested.
Yesterday was my last day with my first semester students. It was challenging, but we managed to push through with some life lessons being learned. I struggled with some students as they just did not have respect and did not care about my class or even school at all for that matter. My last period class, which was also a challenging one, surprised me with this picture and gifts: 
It was so sweet and so unexpected! It took every ounce of me not to cry in front of them. It meant so much to me. Then, as I was cleaning up my classroom after all the students left, I found this note. It was not handed to me, but left in the classroom by an anonymous student and it truly humbled me:
I just wanted to say thank you to my last period class and to this student(s) who wrote this letter. As a teacher, we barely ever get thanked for what we do and it has truly touched my heart. It has restored my faith that I am doing something right even though most days it is pulling teeth to even get the kids to write down notes. I went into teaching to help students, to be the teacher that students could go to for help and felt comfortable seeking help from. And this note as left me speechless. Every time I read it, I cry. It is in this letter that expresses everything I have been teaching them this semester and truthfully thought I failed. To my anonymous student(s): Thank you, thank you, thank you, you have helped me much more than I ever had the opportunity to help you. 

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