Dear Mr. Evans:

You don't know me, but my grandson, Jeremy, is in your fourth grade class this year.I called him to see how he'd fared on the first day of school and he was so excited and eager I could just about see him jumping up and down - long distance. He says you are "really really neat." He is enthused about the year ahead and expecting great things.

He didn't even bother to put on the usual 9-year-old "school's yucky" act, and that says something. That says a lot. Kids today think they are supposed to dislike school. I hear "yucky" from a lot of little folk that I KNOW don't genuinely dislike it; a lot, in fact, who begin anticipating a new year just as the old one ends and spend the summer waiting to get back to class.

Yes, many of those little persons were counting the days to Aug. 29 and only saying "yucky" to impress their friends and folks. I suspect that Jeremy may try to make me think some time that he thinks school is yucky. My hope is that if that happens, he'll still be echoing the popular patter and not really feeling that school is a bad place to be.

I want you to know, Mr. Evans, what a very special little child Jeremy is. He has a curiosity that is delightful and when he's interested in something, he throws himself into it body and soul.

You'll no doubt be introduced sooner or later to his stubborn streak. Remember, please, that when he gets to be an adult, that stubborness will metamorphose into "determination and stick-to-it-iveness" - just as many other childish quirks that drive us all crazy later become assets.

The problem is that Jeremy doesn't know yet what an absolutely intriguing and marvelous place the world is. We need to help him, you and his parents and I, to catch the excitement of knowing everything from Ants to Zebras.

I don't want Jeremy ever to suppose that the world consists only of his own home or his own neighborhood or even his own state. I want him to see everything and hear everything and never be full of knowing.

I want so much for Jeremy - that whole fascinating world, in fact. Or whatever amount of it he can absorb in a lifetime. I would love it if at 12 - and 14 and 29 - he is still as avid to learn as he is now.

So much depends on you, Mr. Evans, and on all the other teachers who will touch his life. I am grateful every day for "neat, neat" teachers - those who shared little bits of the world with me, those who helped prepare my children for the adult world and those who now take my grandchildren under their wings.

I feel a little foolish. Imagine me trying to tell you your business. You know why you went into education in the first place and why you stay in it - to help pour that abstract we call education into all those little receptacles that fill the desks in your classroom each year.

Mostly, I guess, I just want to say thanks in advance. I'm hoping that next spring, Jeremy's enthusiasm will be undiminished and that he'll have in his grasp more little chunks of that huge, vast, endless mountain of Things to Know; and that he'll be ready for another "neat, neat" teacher who will take over for fifth grade.

I hope he'll never say "yucky" and mean it. So much depends on you.

Thanks for your time. I'll close now, because I have more letters to write - to a teacher who has Justin in his class. And one who has Jessica. And TJ and Brooke and Van and Crissy and Taylor. And some more for the teachers who can expect in the future to have Kendell and Joshua and Brock and Cameron and Heidi. And whomever else comes along.

I'm grateful to all of you.

Sincerely,

A grandmother