When I think back to the people in my life who have most impacted me the most, I immediately think of my old teachers.
Teaching isn’t easy. I think it’s one of the most difficult jobs in the world, in my opinion. I give anyone credit who can spend an entire day with a bunch of unruly kids in a classroom, only to then go home to spend their free time planning lessons and grading homework. Although I adore children, I simply don’t have the patience to do this job. But YOU do. And lately I feel that teachers haven’t been shown the amount of respect that they rightfully deserve, so this post is for you, to the teacher who changed my life, to remind you that your work INDEED matters.
I was privileged as a child with a wonderful education filled with teachers at all levels who supported me, pushed me, cheered me on, and celebrated my victories. Because of their never ending support, I grew up with the mindset that I could be whatever I wanted to be in this world, and that I mattered as a child. I never once felt that I wasn’t cared for. To you, the teacher who changed my life; I sincerely believe that your belief in me and my future has carried over to my life as an adult. I truly feel that I am more confident in myself because of your constant love and positive words from those days in the classroom so many years ago.
Take for example my 3rd grade teacher Mrs. Hartin, whom instilled my passion for writing and always supported my dreams of becoming an author. I still have a piece of paper from Valentine’s Day back in 2001 that she addressed to “Miss Future Author” on which she scribbled that she couldn’t wait to buy my book someday. If she only knew how much these words have touched me, even 15 years later, and have fueled my ambition to reach for my dreams to some day be a published author. If she only knew that I keep that piece of paper as a token to remind myself to never give up on myself, because someone believes in me even on the days when I don’t believe in myself.
I want to thank you for being there for your students not only in their most rewarding moments, but also in their most challenging moments. Another instance I can recall is when I was given my first detention from my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Pagel. She kept me after school because she heard me bullying a boy near the bus stop about his parents getting a divorce. I’ll never forget how scared I was when she called my mom, and how nervous I was to sit with her at that table after school. It was a lesson learned the hard way. To this day, I don’t think I’ve ever bullied anyone since. Mrs. Pagel knew I was better than that, and her intervention changed my behavior completely around. I still feel guilty for making that mean comment to my classmate.
Now as an adult and as someone who works with children in her own career, I can readily confirm how frustrating it can be when you try to help a student, but they just aren’t getting the concept. Likewise, it’s difficult when I’m trying to talk to a child about their behavior and the student tunes out when I’m speaking. I’ve worked with families of all kinds of socioeconomic backgrounds, especially those from broken, unstable families, and have first handedly seen the importance of why it’s imperative for these kids to have a stable figure in their life. That’s you. And I want you to remember that, even on your most difficult, challenging days where you want to rip your hair out. Never forget that going to school may be the only thing your student looks forward to. Please never forget that you may be the only positive influence in their life.
Day in and day out, you work hard to provide an education for your children. Your work is never done, no matter what grade level you teach. Yet as stressful and demanding your job is at times, you never give up. You live to teach because you know that you’re making difference in the life of others. I want to thank my high school teachers who worked hard to get me to college, especially Mrs. Stewart, who wrote me a beautiful letter of recommendation and mentored me throughout National Honor Society. Who knows; if it hadn’t been for you taking me under your wing, perhaps I never would have gotten into that college. Thank you, Mrs. Stewart, for not just going through the motions teaching history class, but for teaching it with passion and enthusiasm. Thank you for making us memorize 10 historical essays and rolling the dice to only include two on our final exam; although it was so challenging at the time to master 10 topics, this ultimately prepared me for college-level work.
So in case you have forgotten, because it seems that most of the world takes you for granted, teachers matter. YOU matter. YOUR WORK matters. Your kids will never forget you. Every single DAY you spend in that classroom matters.
I am extremely appreciative to all of the teachers I have ever had, but this post is especially dedicated to Mrs. Hartin, Mr. Moody, Mrs. Stewart, and Mrs. Pagel. I wouldn’t be the individual I am today if it hadn’t been for your support, encouragement and belief in me.