Class: English 9
Grade: High School
Subject: English
School/Institution: Whitesboro High School Marcy, New York

Dear Mitch,

First of all, thank you. Thank you for your beautiful words, and thank you for your inspiration.
In fact, inspiration is why I’m writing to you today. Every teacher has their “favorite unit“ that they love to teach, that they look forward to all year, and that they know will be inspiring to their students. For me, a ninth grade English teacher, your book The Five People You Meet In Heaven was MY unit. The moment I read your book on a trip to New York City, and was weeping openly on the subway ride, I knew I had to inspire my students to love this book as much as I did. For the record, I also found out that day that the easiest way to get a seat by yourself on a crowded subway, is to start crying hysterically over a small red and white book.

I went back to school that following Monday in upstate New York, and instantly petitioned my department chair, the principal, and any human being with ears, that I needed this book for my students, and I needed it now.
I went back to school that following Monday in upstate New York, and instantly petitioned my department chair, the principal, and any human being with years, that I needed this book for my students, and I needed it now.

The stars aligned, and I was soon able to teach your amazing novel. Do you know in movies? When the teacher stands on the desk, and all of the kids do the same, and you feel so inspired because those kids are inspired. Well, my reception wasn’t that dramatic, but it was still the most movie-worthy moment of anything I’ve ever done in a classroom. I saw students crying and tough football players in a ball on their chairs. I had a student that openly would share how he “Hates school, hates reading, and hates me,” come up to me when I finished the last page and tell me he’s never liked a book so much in his life. That he had actually finished reading the book weeks ago. That it was really the only book he’d ever read. He had been so hooked from the get go that he chose to pick up the book on his own and finish it. This is the same student who I had spent the entire year nearly begging to stop staring at the window and at least look at the page of what we were doing.
I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but this book…well, I am amazing at teaching it.

That is, until 2020…

Mr. Albom, I began trying desperately, to teach your book over distance learning, and it absolutely breaks my heart, because I know that they are not appreciating it as a they would sitting in my classroom. They are viewing this as a chore, and not getting the love from the book that I try to gift them.

I ask if you could please, take time out of your busy day to join in on one of my Zoom classes. If you could please inspire them to love your book as the near thousand of my past students have before. If you could bring some joy back from this pandemic that robbed my students of this gift.

Thank you so much,
Stephanie Gurdo

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