If you asked any student back in the 1990s at Unionville High School who their favorite teacher was, the majority would have named their environmental science teacher Fred Stauffer.
Besides being a great guy with an infectious personality, he also tasked his students with an original idea. He asked them to write a letter to themselves. In the letter, the students were to predict what their future would be like.
And now, 24-years after writing those letters, Mr. Stauffer is delivering them to his students…
With the help of Megan Plunkett-Cromer, Stauffer delivered the letters to his beloved students. The kids had been in his 1993 and 1994 class.
While the environmental science teacher had promised himself he wouldn’t read the letters, he couldn’t resist. Although he didn’t read them all, the ones he did read were either doom and gloom or extremely prophetic.
“Some of the stories were interesting,” Stauffer said. “They were supposed to be kids writing letters to themselves. Some were doomsdayers, others were pretty positive. It was a lot of fun.”
Megan Plunkett-Cromer turned 40 in April and was a student in Stauffer’s class. She expected nothing with Stauffer showed up at her house unannounced with a crusty letter in his hand. He had gone to her parents’ home first and they directed him down to her new place just down the street.
“He gave my letter to me,” she said. “I wrote about wanting four kids, about wanting a teaching job, and other family and personal things. It was cool.”
As if she was an oracle, Plunkett-Cromer has four children now, and had taught at Unionville-Chadds Ford School District before she retired to care fulltime for her children.
After receiving her letter, she assisted Stauffer in delivering the rest of the 70 letters. Because the students no longer lived with their parents, it was hard for the elderly teacher to track them down.
Dan Fogel doesn’t remember writing the letter in the science class. But he was overjoyed to read it when it was delivered.
“I said world hunger will be a worse problem and more people will be cold and sick and endangered species will be an issue, and there will be disease and war,” Fogel said. “But I also said I will be married with children and have a decent living and a nice job. That part came true.”
In one letter that Stauffer read from one his female students, she said she wanted to become an elementary school teacher in Unionville. She then went on to describe her three future children and how she’d name them Mark, Heather and John.
While her life hasn’t come out exactly like she predicted, she has four children (with different names) and works as a teacher in Chadds-Ford Elementary School.
Stauffer was overzealous when he first started the letter project. When he realized that he would have to deliver them all later, he realized how daunting the task would be. After two years, he called it quits. But instead of forgetting the letters, he waited until now to give them to their writers.
“One of the most rewarding things I have seen in retirement is to see (past students) doing great things with their lives, and what they have achieved,” Stauffer said. “Teachers influence lives.”
Now that he is retired, Stauffer enjoys relaxing. And since some of the letters have not been delivered, he is still working to find where the former students are now living.
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