Nicole Costales, Kindergarten Teacher|

Dear Hollywood Schoolhouse |

Let’s get your age out of the way…75 looks great on you! As I celebrate your aging, I reflect on my own, as it is on your campus that I have spent the last 8 years growing alongside you. We first met in the 4th Grade. I took a leap of faith and answered an ad on Indeed.com. It brought me to McCadden Place. The adventure started as I tried to figure out one of those “No Parking” signs on what happened to be a street cleaning day. Despite the looming potential of a parking ticket that morning, I’m happy to say, it was the right choice, indeed! What was meant to be a quick pitstop turned out to be my longest commitment thus far. As the years passed, I noticed that in 1st grade, I grew wings. In 2nd, I began to fly. Now, here in Kindergarten, I navigate unknown skies with great confidence and enthusiasm because you, dear friend, have always been on my side.

Not too long ago, I quietly asked you a question. I don’t know if you heard me, but it went something like this: “Was I meant to be a teacher?” I asked that same question of myself when I was 6 years old in front of an easel in my playroom. With 2 Cabbage Patch dolls, an oversized Tweety bird, and a random stuffed bear I taught my first students over and over again. Even so, it wasn’t until I asked you that same question that I heard the answer and believed it. Sometimes it takes a good friend to talk you into big life decisions.

Speaking of good friends, I consider us to be just that! We both know that good friends have secrets; juicy truths that revolve around love, hope, and vulnerability are the foundation of every good friendship. Our friendship is strong. I hate to admit it, but you have given me more love than I could ever return. I’ve fallen in love three times in your care. The first was with taquitos. The second was with the way laughter transcends all emotions. And the third was with Mr. Braden. Let’s just say I’m eternally indebted to you, for you have given more than I could have hoped for. Oxford Languages defines hope as “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen”. There is so much hope in your arms, HSH. Families run to your front gate full of hope that their children will thrive and succeed under your mentorship. Students hope for the best for themselves and others daily. Those in your employ hope that they are making you proud. It is through the common thread of hope that you bring us all together. You also bring out the vulnerable sides of those who find themselves in your presence. Adults and children alike share in being uncomfortably vulnerable at HSH. It is that vulnerability that allows us to be fearless.

75 years from now, I hope that you remember the stories that have been told in your rooms…all of them. May they all be recalled, the ones written by famous authors and the ones by students, staff, families…those who find comfort in the nooks, crannies, and crevices of you. I hope you continue with your teachings of things that are most important. Remind students that their character trumps their reputation. Character is what you work to be; it is who you truly are. Your reputation is merely who others think you are. May you continue to be the light that allows your students to truly know the difference.

Education is a funny thing. It’s ever-evolving, they say. But when we truly look back on it, the fundamentals remain the same. When I look back on you, I hope you remain dedicated to your children, your community, and yourself.

Hollywood Schoolhouse, you are a once-in-a-lifetime friend. And just once in this lifetime, I have the privilege of celebrating you on your 75th birthday. Cheers to you!

With love and respect,

Ms. Nicole