A special shelf in Monika Oldham’s classroom at Willow Crest Elementary School holds nearly two decades’ worth of letters from her former students, all noting the lasting impression she’s made on them.


Oldham, who teaches first grade, says she still tears up when she reads some of the notes. They’re a reminder that her work and encouragement made a big difference in her students’ lives.


“They’re like a sponge that just likes to take everything in,” Oldham said of her students. “And they just see the world with different eyes.”


This year, Oldham is teaching her students more than just the fundamentals of reading, writing and arithmetic. She’s also reminding them how important it is to never give up.


“We all make mistakes, and we know all the wrong ways to do things before we know the right ways to do them,” she explained. “And they just find that moment of success.”


Oldham says, hopefully, when her students leave her classroom at the end of each day, they’ll “stand even taller when they walk out.”




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