A letter to my seniors:

First, I must tell you a little bit about how our fates intertwined. Growing up, I always had big dreams of what I wanted to do with my life. First there was my future as a ballerina, ya, ya, I know — haha — Ms. Dishian, the ballerina. Then came my aspirations of being an architect and designing big bridges, which still fascinates me today. Then it was onto my dream of becoming a famous chef or baker (still my favorite hobby).

With each dream came new life experiences and a greater understanding of myself. Teacher though, never really crossed my mind. School was hard for me ... I struggled ... I had to work very hard when others didn’t ... I was picked on ... but even with every difficult moment, I loved it. My teachers were amazing and supportive. They were caring and always made me feel special.

In high school, your high school, I was trying to decide my next steps in life. Where do I go? What do I do? How will I survive without this place? These friends? My SHS family? I remember thinking no way ... never ... nothing gets better than this. As I know you are saying now, as I know your hearts are feeling more pain than I could even imagine. You’ve been cheated, things have been stolen from you. It’s not fair.

However, my kids, you’ll keep going because that’s who you are and that’s the character you have and one day you’ll be in a place where the past becomes the past and your future awaits. For me, it was my sophomore year at UConn. When I watched a speech therapist play with an almost 2-year-old little boy, and through their play he learned to speak, it was then I realized I found it. I’m going to become a teacher because what could be better than helping kids learn by hanging out and playing.

In that one moment, I went on to get my first degree in early childhood development and then headed to Sacred Heart for my master’s in teaching. While attending Sacred Heart, I was placed in my student teaching district, and again another moment came along and placed me at Elizabeth Shelton School in the town that I grew up in, still live in, and love with my whole heart. From the moment I stepped foot in that building, I knew I was home, home in a career that made my life complete.

From there it was onto Mohegan and then ultimately Perry Hill School. I waited with patience and applied to every and any school who might be looking for a full-time teacher. Then after six years of applying, my chance in Shelton finally came. Another moment setting me on my path and with that, I was hired as a fifth grade teacher. In August of 2014, I entered room 244 at PHS without even knowing the unimaginable happiness this class of kids would soon bring to my life. Those kids were you, Class of 2020.

Now here we are six years later, and here you are faced with a moment, an unimaginable outcome. Yes, these current moments are difficult, but more moments await you: moments that will fill your life with love, purpose and hope. I promise to you — you were the ones that brought that to me, and I know you are destined to bring that to others. So, look forward, hold your heads high, go after your dreams, pay attention to small moments that can change your life, and above all else our song means more now than ever — I just wanna see you be brave.

Sending lots of love to the entire Class of 2020. #oncemykidsalwaysmykids

Courtney Dishian

Perry Hill School teacher