Dear Professor Robert Dickson,
Have you ever seen the movie, “Mr. Holland’s Opus”? Well, if you haven’t, I will try not to spoil it for you. Mr. Holland was a reluctant music teacher with reluctant students. But over the years, he began to really apply himself, as did his students. He was an advocate for the students who needed help, who needed encouragement. All through this time, which was at least thirty years, he was working on his magnum opus—an orchestral piece that he dreamed about finishing. Well, when he retired, years of his former students whose lives he had touched, came and performed his finished work to him as the most meaningful thank you that they could conceive of. Now, I know you aren’t going anywhere, but I am. I am graduating and moving on from here to other things, bigger things. But you have been my Mr. Holland. And this piece of writing is the most meaningful thank you that I can conceive.
There is nowhere to start, not enough words in the world to express my thankfulness for you and your excellent teaching and mentorship. In your classes I was stretched, I learned, I cried, I was encouraged, I learned what I wanted to do with my life, I honed the gift that Jesus gave me. Your encouragement has been absolutely invaluable, humbling and overwhelming in the best possible ways. I am not deserving of such rich words of praise that you have lavished on me. However, I know that it is genuine, as your compliments are not empty. In that knowledge, those words hold even more power.
And as more than a professor, as a mentor and as a father-type figure, all I can say is thank you. My father is a wonderful man, but he hasn’t been able to see my writing in the ways you have or with the context that you have, or with the expertise that you bring to the table. Thank you for the encouragements that you have been in and outside of class. Again, I know that you love words and choose them carefully, so they hold deeper meaning when the praise and encouragement flow out of you.
Also, please know that I am not the only student who feels this way. You have touched the lives of so many, to many for you to even know. Thank you for your faithful teaching, your faithful encouragement and your faithful love of our Father in heaven. And when I am done with my magnum opus, I will send you a signed copy. And I may send you a copy to sign for me, as I hope for the dedication to say;
To my mom, my hero and the best friend I ever had
To Professor Dickson, my biggest supporter and the best professor I ever had
And to my Lord and Savior, who saved me from eternal death by his blood, and kept me alive so I could tell you about it.
I cannot tell you how big of a blessing you have been in my life. Thank you for everything. I will always tell people that they need to take Journal and Autobiographical Writing with you as long as you are teaching it. I think that it is the best class I have ever taken.
I will send you things I have written from time to time as I know you would like that, and there is no one whose opinion I respect more.
Mathilda Grace Burton