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A Letter To My Students, Who Just Discovered My 'Secret Life'

Dear Students,

This week a whole bunch of you realized that there is a blog being kept and a book that has been written by someone who happens to look very much like your English teacher, and even has the same name. And now, it seems a lot of you are reading this blog, and some are even reading the book! Try as I might, I can't get any of you to believe that it was all written by this random other person named Ilana Garon, who looks like me only with shorter hair. And, you've all found my professional Facebook page. (We still can't be friends on the personal Facebook page--tough luck!) So, I'm going to come out and tell the truth: You're right. It's me. I am "internet-famous," as one of you guys told me.

First of all, thank you for all for having a great sense of humor about the whole thing. Some of you have asked, "Why didn't you tell us you wrote a book?" I guess the answer is that I thought you guys might think it was weird. I worried that you might be confused or uncomfortable about me being your teacher and simultaneously writing about education and students in a different setting.

Also, I didn't realize that any kids would be so interested in the book I wrote, or that you would enjoy reading it (though I'm very flattered that you like it--that's a great compliment to any writer)! So, thank you for proving me wrong. And to those of you who asked if I will write another book, and if it can be about you guys (and maybe...the "Truth Locker"?): Anything is possible!

Since you're here, I wanted to tell you guys a little bit about why I write this blog, and what kinds of topics I write about. Last week, you noticed I wrote about something that happened in our class (again, the "Truth Locker" incident), which I found both interesting and funny. (I think in a couple of years many of you will also find it funny in retrospect!) Some of my blog entries are about amusing, informative, or just plain weird things that happen in our classroom. I write about these things because I think people should know what happens in high schools in order to get an idea of what teenagers are thinking, studying, and doing in their daily lives.

You know how we discuss social inequalities while we're reading The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian? Specifically, the part wherein Junior gets so upset about his school never being able to afford new textbooks, and how we said that was an example of "educational inequality"? Well, sometimes I write about educational inequalities in this blog--for instance, the comparisons you guys have made between your school and the public schools you've seen in some affluent parts of Westchester. Another thing I write about is how government policies (from the federal government, and from our state and city governments) affect our school: the material we learn in class, the discipline code, standardized tests, how you guys and I are graded. (Believe it or not, teachers get graded too!) And, I write sometimes about the challenges I face as your teacher, trying to do the job right.

Anyway, I hope you guys enjoy reading, and come ask me questions if you have them. One more thing I want to mention: Writing a book and getting it published was, for me, a dream come true--and I had to work for a long time to make it happen. So if you really want to accomplish something, get to work! And don't lose hope even if it takes a while. I believe in you.

And now, stop futzing around on the Internet and go do your homework!

Hugs, handshakes, or high-fives (whichever suits you),

Ms. Garon

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