An open letter to the teacher who changed my life |

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.

An open letter to the teacher who changed my life |

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.

You matter.

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.


  • Rae

    Truly we are lucky to be able to have had “that teacher.” We are really lucky if we’ve had a handful of them who have changed us for the better in different academic areas.

    • Totally. So thankful for those who teach!

  • I definitely had wonderful teachers. If it weren’t for such dedicated English and lit teachers in high school, I probably would not have pursued English in college and have the bachelors degree I have today!

    • That’s so awesome. Teachers make all the difference in the world.

  • So true. Teaching has to be one of the hardest jobs. I did it for a few years and it just wasn’t for me. But I fondly remember a number of teachers who truly changed my life!

    • Well, I commend you for being a teacher, Becky! Super awesome!!!

  • Greta Hollar

    Teachers are the best! I remember my high school teacher who encouraged me to study journalism in college. They do so much!

    Greta |

    • Aw what a sweetheart. She must know you well (:

  • Such a great reminder of how much teachers shape our lives and how important of a job it is.

    • Thanks for reading, Julie!

  • It is awesome on how you remember how a teacher has an impact on you.

  • Melissa Blake

    This is such a touching tribute!! My 4th grade teacher was the same way…so encouraging! xoxo

    Melissa | So About What I Said

    • Aw so awesome. So cool how they have touched us after all of these years!

  • Jessica Bradshaw

    So sweet! I am an elementary school counselor now, but I taught kinder for 3 years. It is hard work, but so very rewarding. I still remember many of my teachers from Kinder through grad school that made a huge impact on who I am today. :) Great post!

    • So awesome, Jessica! I’m going for my Master’s in school counseling right now!! xo

  • I love this. Teachers have one of the most important jobs. Besides moms, they spend the most time with your children. I had so many great ones, and I feel the same way about them.

    • <3 Teachers don't get enough credit.

  • I love this post! It’s so true, teachers can make such a huge impact. I had the same teacher for second and fourth grade and you wouldn’t think a teacher of that age would make a huge difference but man did she ever. I still, to this day, use her teachings. She was SO tough and I may have cried once or twice, but she prepared 7 and 9 year old me for some difficult times in life that I don’t think I’d have been able to otherwise. I still remember the stuff she taught us and even though she died of breast cancer about 8 years ago, I always think of her and how she changed my life.

    • Wow. What a remarkable person. Isn’t in insane how one person can change us so much? Loved hearing your heart, Hannah!! I’m sure she adored you. XO

      • It really is! My best friend from 2nd grade on and I had her for fourth grade together and just the other day we were talking about something she taught us that we still use, like the fact that Halloween grammatically should be “Hallowe’en” and how we still write it that way and still know the explanation she gave! And it’s funny because it’s not even the students she made an impact on either. I remember we had an assignment one time to come up with as many homonyms as possible (like carrot and carat, bark of a tree, bark of a dog, etc.) and honestly, my mother still to this day will go, “Oh, I thought of another homonym! Ms. Kolkmeyer would be so proud.” It’s pretty amazing when you think about the impact she made in just some random suburban school outside of DC with a bunch of young kids.

  • Boxwood Avenue

    This made me tear up a bit – teachers make such a difference. I am a coach, and hope that one of my girls will someday think of me as helping them!

    • Oh, I’m sure they will!! <3 It's so awesome that you coach. I remember my coaches as well, and the ones who made a positive impact on my life (:

  • That is so special. I remember some of my teachers. Most of them compared me to my sister, which i really didn’t like. I can’t recall a big impact that was lasting. I am happy that you did.

    • Aw sad that you never had that special bond with a teacher. :( If you have kids, hopefully they will <3

  • Aww, this made me tear up. I’m like you in that I will never forget those teachers who went above and beyond to really encourage me and help me learn and choose excellence. It’s work worth doing. I don’t teach in a school, but I teach private lessons, and I hope that I will be the kind of teacher students remember positively years down the road.

    • I’m sure you are making the same positive influence, Rachel. Thank you for doing what you do!

  • Those special teachers stay with you for the rest of your life. As I’ve taught on the college level, I am so much more appreciative of how they touched my life. It’s so important that we take the time to acknowledge what they have done.

    • So true, Sheryl! Thanks for stopping by.

  • Love this! I had some really stellar teachers as well that I wish I could personally thank for all they ever did.

    xoxo, Jenny

  • Diana Catapang

    Aww! This is so sweet! Yeah, we must admit that our teachers have done so much part in our lives. It’s just right that we are remembering them… and thanked personally, perhaps. :)

    • For sure. :) I think they would appreciate that more that we know!

  • This is perfect. We were lucky to have (mostly) an amazing staff of teachers in the district. Mrs. Stewart was (and still is) one of the most influential people in my life, not just as a teacher. (and omg I hated the dice roll in SNC History).

    • I know! She was definitely my #1 mentor in high school. I hated that damn SNC dice roll at the time but it helped prepare me SO much for college- and I learned a great deal from just that course, however much anxiety and pain it caused me back in the day!!!! These are the parts about high school that I miss so much-teachers who cared and completely lost themselves in their work.

  • Kelsie Kleinmeyer

    Tears. Just tears. Thank you SO much for this. It is just what this teacher’s heart needed, and I agree with some much of what you say. We don’t always get respect. In fact, I’ve had people tell me I’m “too smart” to teach, like it was some lesser profession. But I love it, because I get to help shape kids’ lives :) And that is something worth doing!

    • That is so incredibly sad; people should never undermine your intelligence by telling you that you’re too good to teach. That is exactly why you SHOULD teach!! I’m sure you are an amazing teacher and have already made a HUGE difference in the lives of others just in your short time on this earth, Kelsie <3

  • What a beautiful, heartfelt letter! I couldn’t agree more. Teachers do not get the respect they deserve. I have had so many wonderful mentors who have inspired and motivated me growing up. Thank you to all the teachers in the world who continue to pour their patience, knowledge and faith in their students.

    • So awesome to hear that you had such a wonderful experience growing up :) I agree, we can never thank them enough!!

  • kandja sylla

    What a touching post! Teachers were like our second parents since we used to spend more time in school than at home. They see our potentials and push us to become better versions of ourselves just like our parents. Thank you to all the teachers out there! xx

    • Thanks for stopping by, love! I agree. Teachers deserve so much more credit. Some of my best teachers loved with all their hearts; almost like parents. <3