Cheryl Sanderson’s letter to her 3rd-grade-self

Cheryl Sanderson is a science teacher at the Summer Street Elementary School in Lynnfield, MA. She is focused on fostering excitement and curiosity in the science classroom. Sanderson received the 2010 Amgen Award for Science Teaching Excellence.



Dear Cheryl,

You may think that your science classes in third grade lack excitement and curiosity and can at times be very discouraging with memorizing words and facts that mean very little to you, except that you need to know them to pass a science test and then move on to the next topic and grade. However I can’t wait for you to discover the creativity and passion for science that will become such a significant part of your adult life. You will continue to enjoy your world of music and drama, but get this: in your wildest dreams could you ever imagine yourself as a teacher? Really, a teacher!

Your journey will take you in many directions that will assist you to develop lifelong problem solving and thinking skills, as well as technology and engineering skills. You will take responsibility for your own learning and develop a sincere pride in your work (yes, you will ironically find yourself slowing down and actually sharing and gaining knowledge with those book reports and research papers).

Never let anyone tell you that you can’t do something simply because you are a girl, a jock, a music nerd, or you’re not smart enough! Had I let people convince me of that I would not have had the opportunities that you are about to experience. Be willing to take risks even if it means you might fall flat on your face and fail, never be satisfied with what ifs, you will never grow and never have the chance to inspire others. It’s okay to be afraid and be willing to go out on a limb, wait until you spend your summers in Africa testing water resources for National Geographic, teaching children in Poland, and teaching students and teachers in China!

Remember these kind words from your mom, “In life you must always remember and treasure friendships, responsibilities, cooperation, compassion, tolerance, honesty, and perseverance. And always remember that loving yourself and others, no matter what the circumstances, is the most important gift of all.”

Follow your dreams,


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