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‘Dear Mrs. Brown’: Killeen students open up via persuasive essays thanks to teacher’s creative idea

Published: Oct. 22, 2021 at 4:25 PM CDT
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KILLEEN, Texas (KWTX) - A local middle school principal is getting creative to not only make sure her students know their voices are heard but, in the process, get some writing practice under their belts.

Gina Brown, principal at Eastern Hills Middle School in the Killeen ISD, placed a box outside her office, encouraging students to submit one-page persuasive essays.

The students have taken advantage of it, writing the principal about everything from why they should have more access to the snack bar or why open seating at lunch is a good idea.

The idea started as a way to make lunch time more productive.

“7th graders, I’ll be very honest, they were having a difficult time at lunch time and they were having a hard time earning some privileges,” Brown said.

“So we were also, on the flip side of things, on the academic side of things, a little bit concerned about the lack of opportunity to write and so I came up with this idea on one of the days of 7th grade lunch to give students the opportunity to earn a privilege that they really, really wanted, which was to gain access to the snack bar by writing an essay and it had to be a formal essay, the best that they could do, a one page essay.”

Mrs, Brown's box
Mrs, Brown's box(Courtesy Photo)

While many students wrote about the snack bar, one student had an unusual request.

“So a student walks into the front office and she hands the front office this letter and asked, ‘could you please give this letter to Mrs. Brown?’”

The letter was signed “Ms. Secret Seventh Grader.” It was later determined to be written by student Kylee Weaver.

“I, along with a couple of other students, were wondering if we would/could have more writing prompts at lunch,” Kylee wrote.

What she went on to say touched the principal’s heart.

Not only did the student want more practice in writing, she wanted Brown to know how much she appreciates the lengths she goes to help educate and support students.

“If you made it this far into the letter, I greatly appreciate you and all that you do to keep this school running,” Kylee wrote. “You truly are a real superhero. You wear no cape. You have no superpowers but, really, the fact that you come to work each day with a smile on your face and take care of what must. Thank you!”

Mrs. Brown set up a box outside her classroom to encourage her students to write persuasive...
Mrs. Brown set up a box outside her classroom to encourage her students to write persuasive essays.(Courtesy Photo)

Since the “Dear Mrs. Brown” purple box was made available, many students have written letters.

Student Julia Fonseca asked about free seating during lunch because she says it’s the only time many have to spend together with students not in their classes.

“I really like the Mrs. Brown’s letter idea,” Julia said. “I think it allows so many students that, if they have any questions or any recommendations, instead of maybe being too shy to actually go up and say something, they can just write a letter where they feel more comfortable and just put it in the box.”

Student Abeer Ullah says being able to talk directly to his principal through letters just makes him feel good.

“She gives us chances and gives us the opportunities for something like the letter,” Abeer said.

Mrs. Brown says she’s thankful the students have taken to the idea and hopes there is much more of a group effort to better the school in the days ahead.

“My biggest thing is that I know what I would like to see happen here at Eastern Hills, but it needs to be a group effort. It needs to be from collaboration from all stakeholders and so students and staff are our biggest stakeholders in our building,” Brown said.

“I’m always looking for ways for students, staff and parents to collaborate to give me ideas on things we can do here at Eastern Hills.”

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