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Letter to the Principal

Letter to the Principal

By Miss Marm

Impeccable grammar makes you look smart, polished, and meticulous—exactly how you want to look when you're begging your principal to save a teacher's job.

A Sparkler asked me to double-check his missive for anything that might weaken his case/make his principal's lip curl in disgust. Grammar champs, look for the numbers in parentheses and see if you can guess the problem I've identified. Answers and suggestions follow the letter.

Is it true that Mr. Smith is getting fired? (1) If so, I would like to point out to you that (2) Mr. Smith is perhaps one of the best teachers I've ever had, and I have had many amazing teachers.

He teaches not only about English, but a lot about life, (3) I can honestly say that Mr. (Blank) has taught me more about English in one lecture than most teachers have taught me in one semester. He has done what I thought was impossible, and make a student (4) who dislikes reading so much (5) actually look forward to reading the books every night, looking at them in a different way than he used to, just to discuss them the next day! (6) He has such an abnormal, but great way of teaching so that even people who do not like English can do great (7) in his class, and even understand it (8) at the same time! This man has amazing faith and care for all his students, and honestly it would be a big loss to [school name here] if he did not work here any longer, (9) if you fire Mr. Smith you are giving up the opportunity for almost 150 sophomores one of the best years of their high school careers. (10) I have had more fun in one quarter with this teacher than I have had in a year with most other teachers. (11) I have students in my hour with Mr. Smith who would never pay attention in English (or most other classes I've had with them) and would get a D or C at best in their classes, I have seen those students absolutely love coming into the classroom every day TO LEARN, and have fun doing it. (12) Although this might sound cruel, I can think of approximately six other teachers at out school that deserve to get fired over Mr. Smith and not just because of poor teaching methods. (13) Dr. [Principal's name], please reply to this as soon as you finish reading it, I would love to hear your opinion. (14)

(1) A bit too abrupt and accusatory. Replace this opening sentence with something like, "I was saddened to hear a rumor that Mr. Smith's job might be in jeopardy. Just in case there's some truth to this rumor, I wanted to give you my student perspective on his abilities."

(2) Delete the beginning of this sentence ("If so, I would like to point out to you that") and begin with "Mr. Smith is..."

(3) Comma splice. Change the comma between "life" and "I can honestly say" to a period.

(4) "He has done what I thought was impossible, and make a student" --> "He has done what I thought was impossible: made a student"

(5) Delete "so much"

(6) I'd delete everything after "reading the books every night." Also, delete "the" from the preceding phrase.

(7) "do great" --> "do well"

(8) "it" is vague. Change to "the material" or another specific phrase.

(9) Comma splice. Replace this comma with a period.

(10) Awkwardly phrased. Change to "you are depriving almost 150 sophomores of one of the best classes they'll ever take."

(11) Delete the preceding sentence ("I have had more fun in one quarter..."). It's too similar in content and sentiment to your third sentence.

(12) Move this sentence up, so that it comes right after "at the same time!" Also, change it to, "Some of my fellow students normally don't pay attention in English (or most other classes I've had with them) and generally get Cs and Ds. In Mr. Smith's class, though, these students are enthusiastic and engaged."

(13) Delete this sentence. It comes off as mean-spirited (even though I know you don't mean it that way).

(14) Replace the preceding sentence with something like, "Dr. [Principal's name], I feel it would be a terrible shame if such a talented teacher were to lose his job. I would welcome the chance to talk to you in person about this matter. Thank you for your attention. Respectfully, [your name]."

Do you have more corrections to make? Leave them in the comments! And if you'd like me to look over your letter/wall post/witty tweet, send it to for consideration.

Topics: teachers, grammar, principals, letters

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