Cathy Stavenger – Letter to Myself at Age 22

Dear Cathy (age 22),

Congratulations! Tomorrow you will begin a new chapter in your life, one you have dreamed of since you were in first grade. You will stand before your first group of third-grade students as Miss Allgaier – their teacher. You are thinking you have finally reached your goal. The icing on the cake? The $9,200 salary means you can buy your first brand-new car. Do me a favor, think sporty, racy... anything but sensible. You have many years of sensibleness ahead. Go for it!

I have been given the opportunity to reach back through time to share some words of wisdom earned over years of experiences. After much contemplation, I have decided the best way to do so would be to share the following list. I call it, “You may not believe this now, but...

  • You will use something called “Blackboard” without ever picking up a piece of chalk.
  • Wearing a Christmas bow in your hair may be the height of fashion to a second-grader, but it is perceived much differently on the campus of a university.
  • You will experience the Yogi Berra “déjà vu all over again” syndrome when you are given the opportunity to once again teach students you taught as second- and third-graders. Instead of teaching them to read and write, you will prepare them to become teachers, joining you as colleagues in your profession.
  • Having a student jump on you from behind to deliver a big bear hug is considered a compliment in elementary school. It is defined as assault on a university campus.
  • You will learn more from 7-year-olds than from any book you read.
  • You will be addressed by many names:
    Miss Allgaier,
    Mrs. Stavenger,
    Mrs. S.,
    Professor Stavenger,
    Treasured above all others: Mom and, yes, Grammy.
  • The Red Sox will win a World Series – more than once!

Enjoy your first day of school tomorrow, Cathy. You have so much to learn, but fortunately for you, your future students are prepared to teach you.


Professor, Mom, Grammy, Cathy Stavenger, age 52
Assistant Professor of education

Contact Cathy Stavenger at

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