Braden Nagel, Grade 4, Lead Teacher|

Dear Hollywood Schoolhouse |

I had only been in Los Angeles for a short while when it all began. While in pursuit of other passions, I began spending time with you. Feeling your energy. Connecting with your community. It was addicting. It fed my soul. Before I knew it, I began questioning the direction of my life. Love is funny that way. Sometimes, you know in an instant… like being hit by a train. In other instances, you need time to work its magic to be able to see the light of love. When we first met, some twenty plus years ago, little did I know the tremendous impact you’d have on me and my life. We’ve both grown and changed in significant ways since we caught our first glimpse of each other, but our bond is stronger than ever.

Through the years, you have been an essential part of my life. This is as true today as it ever was. You’ve brought extraordinary people, awesome experiences, and cherished memories to me. The gratitude I feel towards you for these gifts can never be fully expressed through mere words. It requires action on my part. The career opportunities, lifelong friendships, personal and professional connections, security, creative freedom, love, and inspiring children that you’ve given me have added immeasurable value to my life. Thank you!

Considering who you are and what you stand for, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that you’ve taught me so much. You are a master teacher of life… specializing in love and loyalty. I was with you, when for the first time in my life, I lost someone close to me. I was in my classroom when word came that my grandma was on death’s door. She was my hero and substitute mom, and now she was gone.  You and your community wrapped your arms tightly around me and helped me through grief’s dark wilderness. Sadly, many years later, your loving arms would cradle me yet again when my best friend tragically passed. The love, compassion, and understanding that you showed me in both of these moments gave me the strength I needed to carry on. I love how much love you are always willing to give to all who are in need.

In the time between those two sad bookmarks, we drifted apart. Early on in this period of time, we’d occasionally get back together but neither of us could fully commit to each other. As years passed, I found myself back at your door. It was, however, not a triumphant return as I was experiencing a difficult period in my life. You opened your arms and heart to me as if I’d never left. Thank you for your loyalty. I will never forget it. While back in your presence, I could feel my confidence, strength, and joy returning to me. It was then, that you gave me the most precious and beautiful gift that I’ve ever received. I first saw Ms. Nicole in what is now a 3rd grade classroom. It makes sense that I’d meet the most important person in my life at the most important place in my life. There’s no doubt that Ms. Nicole and I were made for each other, and that we were both made for HSH. Thank you for bringing her into my life.

I hope that you see and feel the energy, passion, love, comedic relief, and commitment that I bring to you each day. I strive to connect with you, the students, my colleagues, and the HSH community in positive, kind, and meaningful ways. I promise to always give you my best to this end. We first met in the early summer of my life. It is now early in the fall for me. It is my hope to be with you at the onset of my winter, if the fates allow.

I can’t believe you’re 75! Don’t forget that age is just a number…unless you’re on a dating app. Then, it’s an albatross of biblical proportions. Seriously, you’ve aged very well. It is impressive that you’ve come so far given your humble beginnings. You should be very proud of yourself. In the next seventy-five years, I hope that you continue to grow, evolve, and adapt to the times while staying true to the timeless foundations of education. I hope you continue to teach young minds how to think rather than what to think. I hope that in addition to teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic, you continue to teach mindfulness, love, kindness, acceptance, and empathy. The world will always need these lessons. The world will always need you.


Mr. Braden