There’s a whole crew of Navy men and women in Great Lakes, Ill., who are enjoying being pen pals with fifth graders from right here in Excelsior Springs. Students in Candy Teegarden’s class at Lewis Elementary School are learning the importance of supporting our troops as well as learning how to develop relationships with people they do not know through good old-fashioned letter writing.
“My cousin Laura Foster enlisted in the Navy and I thought about how fun it would be for our kids to write to the sailors,” explained Teegarden. “I had known that Laura would receive a lot of mail of support from her family members and friends, but she had mentioned it would be nice for the other sailors to receive a lot of mail also.”
Teegarden said there are 88 sailor recruits in her cousin’s division, and only 22 students in her fifth grade class. Although the numbers didn’t quite add up, each student did receive a letter back in response and some even received more than one letter.
“We mailed off our first batch of letters the first week of September. We had to wait to hear from Laura and learn what her permanent address would be after she went through boot camp,” Teegarden continued. “After we learned the address the students began writing their letters. I explained to the students that it would be good to write the sailors letters to encourage them and explained that they were serving our country.”
Most of the students asked questions about the sailors’ experiences at boot camp and what the food was like. Some students shared stories from their own experiences with family members who were deployed or enlisted in the military. Many students talked about their hobbies and what they were especially good at. Teegarden said that almost every single student added their own artwork to their letter including encouraging smiley faces, which the soldiers seemed to enjoy the most.
The students’ letters got responses by the third week of September, and the students in Mrs. Teegarden’s class were ecstatic when the letters from the soldiers came in the mail. As far as continuing their pen pal relationship, Teegarden has another envelope ready to hit the outgoing mail pile that the students just finished this week.
Unfortunately the majority of sailors the students have been writing to will graduate in the following week and will move on to another address, but according to Teegarden’s cousin there are plenty of other sailors that she will be stationed with that would love to hear from the students.
Foster still has a full six years to go with the Navy. She will spend the next two years at Great Lakes, where she will attend A School and study advanced electronics and computers.
Teegarden plans to have the students continue writing to sailors where Foster is stationed and hopes that the relationships they have already developed will continue.
By Jae Juarez • firstname.lastname@example.org