Logan Pullin, a teacher at Bay-Waveland Middle School in Bay St. Louis, Miss., has delivered letters to all of his first-year students who are graduating from Bay High School in 2018. Pullin, in back, is pictured with students Robert Williams, Daley Bell and Anna Grace Boxx.

BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. — While Bay-Waveland Middle School teacher Logan Pullin says writing is not his strong suit, his personalized, handwritten and hand-delivered letters are making Bay High School seniors feel special.

“I saw him at break, and he just had a big old box full of letters, and he said, ‘Daley Bell, this one’s for you,’ ” said the senior. “And I read it, and I was so emotional after reading it.”

Pullin, who began teaching in 2012, has taken connecting with students to a new level by writing 120 senior letters to the class of 2018. They were his first class of students. And they were impressive.

“That group of kids really set my level high, as far as what I can demand and expect out of seventh-graders,” Pullin said. “This group of kids came in — day in, day out they studied. I had whole classes make A’s on tests. … We’d have discussions, and before you’d know it, we were talking about things that I didn’t even plan on talking about.” The subject was world history, so engaging the young students was no small feat.

“This group of kids were just very, very involved with every aspect of being in the classroom,” he said.

Pullin said he started writing the letters last year and would work on them off and on, spending about five to 10 minutes a letter. His inspiration came from his wife, Ashley, who had learned about keeping a “Why I Teach” binder. She teaches social studies to sixth-graders at BWMS.

He said he thought if he would want to keep a binder of things students had given him or done for him, then maybe they would want something in return.

“So I kinda took her idea, the ‘This is Why I Teach’ binder, and utilized the inspiration,” Pullin said. “Had I never heard of that, I don’t know if these letters would have been written.”

BWMS principal Jenny Seymour said the Pullins spend a lot of time with students outside of school, going to games and chaperoning dances and the like.

“Mr. Pullin and his wife go above and beyond in every aspect. Both are the most humble people,” Seymour said. “And for Mr. Pullin to write the letters on top of his current workload, that doesn’t surprise me.”

The letters wish the students a great senior year and offer other words of encouragement. Some recall funny moments in the classrooms from five years ago.

“Some of them were just telling them how proud of them I was because I knew that middle school was not a fun time for them, for whatever reason,” Pullin said. “Some of them, there were some inside jokes, like we had a student who, a very bright student who struggled. I don’t know what the problem was, but every time she tried to sharpen a pencil in my class, it ate her pencil, annihilated her pencil. So there was a comment in there about sharpening pencils. Just little things that I could remember.”

He started delivering the letters Sept. 22, and for the next few days, he’d walk over to the high school next-door in the mornings, during his off-period and during lunch breaks to find the students. The letters were sealed in school-color envelopes of blue and yellow. His first day, he was only able to pass out about 20 letters.

That afternoon, at the time of student dismissal, Pullin was called to the office.

“It’s strange to call me to the office at dismissal time,” he said. “So I go down there, and there’s three or four seniors standing at the door … and they are like, ‘So, we heard about some letters.’

“So, I was like, letters? What do you mean?”

The students told Pullin they wanted their letters.

“I started laughing,” he said, and told them, “I was going to come back on Monday — don’t think I forgot about you, but since y’all are here, come on back. … I thought that was pretty hilarious.”

Tribune News Service