CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Some King High School students recently found a nice surprise in their mailboxes after principal Prudence Farrell challenged her teachers and staff to reach out to students in a different way.
As the end of the school year draws near, Ferrell felt it was a great idea for her staff to provide words of encouragement to students as a final push to finish the year strong.
However, instead of sending text messages, emails or making phone calls, she asked her to staff to put pen to paper, and send letters in the mail.
“Every staff member wrote three letters to three different students (of their choice) — every staff member also wrote a letter to another staff member,” Ferrell said. “And it's not just from their teachers; it's every staff member on campus who did this. That includes paraprofessionals, administrative assistants, counselors.”
A total of 300 letters were sent out to students last week, as staff members also received letters from their colleagues.
Ferrell said she got the idea after she received a letter from her daughters’ teacher a year ago.
“And so, when I got that letter from her teacher, I was like 'Wow, like, I really needed that,' ” Ferrell said. "And so, it just made me think, you know, there are a lot of kids that need that.”
Ferrell said she started the initiative last year at Hamlin Middle School, and decided to do the same this year at King.
“I feel really blessed to have a principal who promotes positivity on campus and encouraged teachers to not only write letters to students, but also to each other,” said science teacher Erica Wakefield. “Especially at the end of the year; all of us students and staff are trying to just get through to the end. A letter of positivity can really help push both the student and teacher to just stay positive and motivated until the end.“
Wakefield said she really thinks the letters help students realize their teachers truly care about them.
She added that the students she wrote letters to were students she felt might need the encouragement a little more than others.
“Students are not going to be able to learn or absorb information when they're in a school that they don't feel safe in, or that they just don't feel a connection to their teachers," Wakefield said. "And (these letters) really helps bridge that gap.”
KHS junior Davie Bishop said when she first saw the letter in the mail, she didn’t know what to think of it.
Stress from her new job, and keeping up with classes and extracurriculars before her senior year has been tough, she said.
But, when she started reading the words from her elementary-school secretary, she felt she could keep going.
“It was nice to have someone like take time out of their day, write a handwritten letter, (and) mail it to my address," Davie said. "Especially because it was addressed to me. Not even to my parents, like, they addressed it to me. I've heard from a few different people that they really enjoyed having them, and especially because they also didn't understand why they were getting mail.”
King sophomore Holly Davis received two letters — one from her favorite teacher, and one from one of her favorite staff members.
Just like Davie, Holly was surprised to receive her letters.
“It's just really sweet,” Holly said. "And it seemed a lot better than getting like a text or an email or something. We can hold on to him for a while. I feel like it’s more meaningful because I know if I'm having a bad day, I can go back and look at it. Or like maybe years from now I can be going through some stuff and I get to see that letter again.”
Both Holly and Davie agreed they hope the school continues to do something like this, so others can benefit from the kind words being shared.
“Writing the letters is just as powerful and as positive as receiving them,” Farrell said. “I mean, when you're putting good energy out, good energy comes back to you.”