Jaime Bairaktaris: “Thank You For Teaching”

The days leading up to graduation are often a blur. Focused on getting out of school — and consumed by parties, dinners and whatnot — most students just move on.

Some do spend time reflecting. A few thank one or two teachers, for their help or guidance.

Jaime Bairaktaris did more. Before graduating yesterday from Staples High School, the EMT/Earthplace teacher/photographer hand-delivered notes.

Jaime Bairaktaris

Jaime Bairaktaris

Not just a couple, or even a few. Jaime wrote to nearly 90 people. He wrote every teacher he ever had, from kindergarten through middle school in Redding, and his 4 years at Staples.

He wrote to principals, assistant principals, grade level assistants. He even thanked me for influencing him, through my writing and our conversations.

Jamie calls it “a type of closure on my part.” I call it remarkable.

In his notes — each of which included a hand-written, personal thank-you at the end, and was printed on hard stock paper, suitable for framing — Jaime said that he’d spent 2,528 days in school: “nearly 40% of my entire life sitting behind a desk, on a carpet, at a computer, on a swing, on a bus, holding a pencil, biting a pencil, laughing, crying, talking, thinking, learning.”

Through learning, he was taught “how to read, write, speak, count, add, subtract, multiply, divide, apologize, hate, wish, dream, think, act, run, jump, play, throw, belong, love, help, care.”

Every teacher, he said, taught him something:

Things that are so commonly simple, yet so vital to life. I have been taught things so complex that I’m told only time will surely show me how they work. But for everything I have been taught, I am extremely grateful. Without people like you, I would not be where I am today.

Jaime concluded: “After 2,528 days, you did it. With the knowledge you’ve given me, you’ve changed my life. Thank you for teaching.”

In April, Jaime Bairaktaris volunteered for 2 weeks at a center for impoverished youth in Naples, Italy. Like the teachers he admires, he is already giving back to the next generation.

In April, Jaime Bairaktaris (kneeling, 2nd from right) volunteered for 2 weeks at a center for impoverished youth in Naples, Italy. Like the teachers he admires, he is already giving back to the next generation.


7 responses to “Jaime Bairaktaris: “Thank You For Teaching”

  1. Jaime is an amazing young man who has taught me to see the best in others, to have hope for the future, and to lead through humble service. All the best to Jaime and his family!

  2. Beautiful, just beautiful. Thank you Jaime. By your words and action you have taught all of us, once again, the importance of expressing gratitude. You make us all proud that you are a Westporter! God’s speed young man.

  3. These young people you write about, Dan, never cease to amaze me. Thanks!

  4. what a lovely young man — can we persuade the kid go into politics so our kids get to vote for someone who isn’t a jerk?

  5. Jamie Walsh

    Obviously, many young people can take a lesson from him. what a role model and I second Stephanie’s suggestion.

  6. Jamie is a gem and one-of-a-kind. He is smart, kind, hard-working, generous, and goal oriented. I am the recipient of one of those letters. I gave read it several times and become emotional each time. It is rare for someone so young to recognize the contributions others have made to his life. I have to say that it was a pleasure to play a small part of in Jamie’s life. I am a better man for having met him.

  7. Armelle Daniels

    Truly remarkable.