Many teachers had an impact on my life. I wanted to be a teacher because of many of them, but fortunately for my would-be students, I followed a different career course. Still, I will always hold a special place in my heart for teachers. They are the quirkiest, most insane, and bravest people I know. They deserve serious respect and, in my opinion, more pay.
I actually still teach, but in the form of training and mentorship of adults. I take the task very seriously, but it can be frustrating and thankless. Because of this fact, I adopted the mantra that if I can reach or touch the life of just one person (student), then I am a success. Many of the teachers I looked up to must have felt the same way. It was easy to spot by the way they responded to those who took their classes seriously.
Many of us have one, two, or maybe a handful of teachers they remember above the rest. I can say I have many. Here’s a few:
Ms. Divine. My first grade teacher. At this point in my life, I couldn’t tell you what she looked like, how she sounded, or why I loved her so much, but I know I did. Maybe I just loved school at that age. For me to remember her name (I’m terrible with names) 32 years later, that has to be something.
Ms. Knox. My third grade teacher. This woman was the devil as far as I was concerned. She spat when she talked, we all thought she hated children, and I can remember one boy in class literally stabbing his self in the hand with a pencil to avoid going to the library with her. I failed third grade for several weeks because I refused to turn in my homework, I disliked her so much.
Note: I actually did all of the homework, I just kept stuffing it into my desk rather than turn it in. My parents and she sat at the school for about two hours one evening sorting all of the papers I pulled out of my desk once she called them about it.
Mrs. Myers. My 7th (maybe 8th) grade English/Literature teacher. This woman seemed so mean back then. She was tough. She expected a lot. She didn’t allow us to slack off for anything. I still remember her telling us one day that trash men in New York City made more than teachers in Oklahoma, yet they still chose to teach us. (I paraphrased here, but I’m sure we deserved the underlying hint that we needed to show her/them more respect.)
Come to find out, she was just one of the ones who cared the most. In fact, I follow her on Facebook—one of the only adults from my childhood that I do so with. She is a multi-published author, multiple book award winner, and has very successful children. I owe her a lot now, and I am very critical of my creative writing because of her instruction, though I didn’t fully realize it until I was an adult. There has been more than a few times I have asked myself what she would think of a certain passage. (If you read this, Mrs. Myers, thank you.) Visit her on her website at https://www.annamyers.info.
My Sophomore Geometry teacher I remember for his experiments and teaching methods. He always used green or purple ink on his tests to help keep us calm and focused. He also let us do brain games for extra credit on tests. I nearly failed his class, but my Geometry ACT score was higher than any other math score. I guess he was effective.
My Sophomore Chemistry teacher let us perform the coolest chemical experiments (probably when he knew he wouldn’t be caught.) I think he spent more time trying to keep us out of the chemical closet than he did teaching us. He left teaching after that year. We were all very sad about it.
My Junior Spanish II teacher. She ended up teaching us two years of Spanish in one year, as the first year teacher spent more time in the hall crying about her relationship problems than teaching us. Her husband barely spoke English, at least to us, but they always looked out for us. They took us on fun field trips, shopped for us when they went back to Mexico over the holidays… and their stories were so funny. One in particular was about them having to give their pet parrot tequila before they crossed the Mexican border so it would pass out and they could pretend it was stuffed.
My Senior Science teacher. She loved her students and had a passion for teaching. She would light up when the students actually cared about learning. I always enjoyed science, so I did my best in her class. She rewarded me by submitting me for a Science Letter and helped get me a small scholarship for college. Neither of which she was at all expected to do.
Even in college, I had a few teachers that I truly appreciated. Two examples are a Calculus TA (grad student) that once told me to “stop over thinking shit” and a Sociology instructor that lit up a cigarette in class (a non-smoking building) at the beginning of our lesson on social deviance. He was the same instructor that made me orally retake a mid-term after I bombed it on paper—without warning or preparation. Without “knowing me” he knew me well enough to understand that I knew the material but suffered from (mild) test anxiety. It’s the little lessons in life and the methods some people take to ensure you get the most of your time that are impressive beyond words.
Thank you. Truly.
To so many teachers, I owe so much thanks and gratitude for their lessons and for helping to mold me into who I am today. One day I will join their ranks and I will strive to be the one whom a contributor to this site long after I am gone writes about. So on this one day, though not enough, I say a heartfelt thank you to all teachers. You may never hear from many of your students after they leave your class, but know that there are those who want you to know that they did well because of you.
You are appreciated.