Students Express Positive Relationships with Staff in Surveys12/12/2022
Receiving a handwritten note has become a rarity; however, thousands of them were recently dispersed to teachers and staff throughout Wylie ISD.
As part of the Caring & Giving core value, The Wylie Way spreads positivity with its relationship survey. Every year, fifth through 12th grade students are asked to write to a teacher whom they feel they have a positive relationship with.
“I received relationship surveys from students I never thought would write me one,” Cornel Walton, Draper Intermediate social studies teacher, said. “It was a great reminder of why I love this job.”
From simply asking about their day to being a person they can turn to for advice, students feel connected to their teachers for a variety of reasons.
Prior to filling them out, students are informed that the surveys will be collected and returned to the teachers they’ve addressed.
McMillan math teacher Lucia Jones builds positive relationships with her students.
McMillan Junior High math teacher Lucia Jones received a relationship survey from a student who said: “she was there for her during the hardest time of her life.” This particular survey from a student she taught last year on a different campus greatly touched her heart.
“It brought tears to my eyes,” Jones said. “This girl is truly an amazing young woman.”
WEHS freshman Makyrra Ford started a positive relationship last year with her science teacher at McMillan Junior High, Katherine Nieto-Whittaker. Both are at East this year and are still connected.
WEHS freshman Makyrra Ford selected Wylie East High School teacher Katherine Nieto-Whittaker as her favorite teacher because of the relationship they built at McMillan. Ford started her relationship survey with a science joke:
Is your name glucose?
Because you’re so sweet!
“It is so wonderful to receive relationship surveys back,” Whittaker said. “As a teacher, we want to make a positive impact on our students. Receiving these slips is a great reminder that we are.”
Ford also wrote that she’s grateful for Whittaker and described her as a second mother. She also thanked Whittaker for her good advice and opinions.
“Makyrra holds a special place in my heart and I am so happy I got to be a small part of her journey,” Whittaker said. “She lights up every room with her personality; it's something I will always remember.”
For some students, it’s hard to choose just one teacher to write to. Oftentimes, students will ask for an additional survey to fill out.
“We received a few surveys back that had three and four teachers listed by students that they wanted to praise,” Amanda Martin, Director of Wylie Way and Counseling said.
WEHS science teacher Joshua Moore is proud of the many relationship surveys he’s received over the years.
The relationship surveys have become a badge of honor. Teachers hang on to these year after year; many display them in their classrooms as a daily reminder that they make a difference.
“When my students leave a favorite teacher slip, it makes me overjoyed,” WEHS science teacher Joshua Moore said. “I absolutely love building relationships with my people, and it gives me the confidence to know I am doing a good job.”
Students relish those positive relationships they have with adults, even after they are no longer on their roster.
Teachers aren’t the only ones receiving this note of affirmation. Bus driver John Barlow, or Mr. John, as he tells his students to call him, fought back tears as he read a survey he received from one of his bus riders whom he hasn’t driven on his route for two years.
“Receiving this little piece of paper let me know that I had done something right by creating a relationship with my kids,” Mr. John said. “Anytime they get on my bus, they are my kids. I love them all just like they are my own children.”
Bus driver Mr. John Barlow has received relationship surveys in the past. “This one is extra special because this student hasn’t been on my bus in two years,” Barlow said. “and she is a third-generation rider of my bus.” He also drove her older sister and brother.
On his survey, the student wrote that Mr. John “remembers everyone’s birthday and he gets them a gift and sings Happy Birthday to them. He also goes to our games and events.”
One purpose of The Wylie Way is to build relationships between students and teachers. The relationship surveys confirm that positive connections are being made.
“Teachers truly pave the way for our students to learn and grow,” Martin said. “One of the best things we can do is to allow moments of reflection. Stopping and thinking of how someone has helped you doesn’t always come naturally. We have a busy society and sometimes that skill gets a little lost. Part of the Caring & Giving core value is to take the time to think about the people who have given to us and cared for us. This is why we want our students to practice this skill.”
Fifth graders through seniors tell who their favorite teacher is and why in the Wylie Way relationship surveys.
Martin and her team have the pleasure of reading the relationship surveys as they are sorted to be delivered to their recipients.
“It’s a humbling experience,” she said. “Fifth through 12th graders fill out the surveys, yet many teachers at the elementary schools receive them back. It goes to show how deep and impactful these relationships are. From bus drivers to custodians, every job position is receiving one. The kids write such thoughtful statements. It’s overwhelming. I wish everyone was able to read 6,000 pieces of paper validating the roles of all adults on campuses.”