Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine and a group of local third graders are proving you’re never too young to make a difference.
Earlier this week Kaine responded to a letter from Matthew Lally, a Chesterbrook Academy Elementary & Middle School student in Sterling. In his letter, Matthew said he too would be a senator when he grew up. As senator, Matthew wrote he would create celebrations for veterans and soldiers, a break for teachers on teacher work days and allow dogs to go to school.
In a reply on his Facebook page, Kaine wrote “I bet some of my constituents could get behind that! You’re never too young to use your voice for what you believe in. Thank you, Matthew!”
Chesterbrook Academy staff members were stunned and delighted when Kaine wrote back, said Victoria Yager, Matthew’s teacher.
“It’s wonderful that Tim Kaine took the time and took this as an opportunity to show kids that their voices really do matter,” Yager said. “It’s something special that Matt and his family is going to remember for the rest of their lives.”
As part of a class writing assignment thanking people for aiding others, Yager’s class divided into groups and wrote to representatives from the three branches of the federal government. She said the third-graders picked government figures to write letters to after discussing the confirmation of Supreme Court justice Neil Gorsuch earlier this year.
While most American adults can’t name a single Supreme Court justice, Yager said her classes’ knowledge and compassion for its community and nation weren’t unusual. Earlier this school year the students organized a clothing drive and she said every day her nine-student class looks to better those around them.
“They’re exceptional kids,” Yager said. “It’s amazing the voice and the power kids have, and how they make the world a better place.”
Matthew, assigned to the legislative branch for the letter, picked Kaine because he felt he was a good person, Yager said.
“You are my hero and your power is justice.” Matthew wrote to Kaine. He signed the letter “your best friend, Matthew.”
After reading his letter, Yager said she wasn’t surprised one of her students would look to help animals. One of her three dogs, Snowflake, is deaf and Yager uses him as an example to teach the students about being nice to others. Along with love toward her other two dogs, Sally and Rocky, Yager said she was elated to see that compassion extend to government figures her students are too young to vote for.
“They teach me something every day because they’re so incredible,” Yager said.