I have been privileged to have had a number of amazing teachers throughout my K-12, college, and graduate education. This week, everyone is thanking all of the stellar teachers that they’ve had.
I have quite the Thank a Teacher list (even if it’s a bit late. Being a teacher and a teacher educator can get busy)
Mrs. Yearger who believed in me, both academically and socially, and told amazing stories about learning every week in class. Who, I know now, sat down with my parents to have serious conversations about my social-emotional development and how entry into the district’s G&T program (which at the time was a high-pressure, slightly isolated program) would affect that.
Mrs. Orlowski, who taught me during the year my father passed away. She helped me navigate a difficult time in my life and helped me to navigate a balance between throwing myself into school work and actually feeling what I needed to feel.
Mrs. Bailey, who was the bright spot in an otherwise dreary and difficult transition to middle school.
Dr. Floriano, who I actually hated throughout all of middle school, but as my high school music teacher helped me to gain confidence and developed my love of singing as well as my skill.
Mr. Griffith, who fostered my love of science and my love of puns. Often simultaneously.
Mr. Robertson & Ms. Outlaw, who believed that everyone could be an artist, even kids whose fine motor skills were way behind the curve in middle school.
Mrs. Pragel, who made Course 2 math come alive, and took me out to pizza hut to celebrate my success on the Regents exam. (I’m still really proud of that 98% and it’s been almost 20 years).
Mr. Keck, who nurtured my love of literature and my capacity for argument. Who was willing to support me in every way, including sponsoring the environmental club I started with friends and helping to drive all of the cans we pulled out of the trash bins around the school to Wegmans for recycling. And who ate the vegan brownies I baked, even though they were full of tofu.
There are probably still more to list, but there are other teachers I want to thank as well. I really want to thank the teachers who were probably good teachers, but not the right teacher for me at the time. Who dealt with my odd pre-adolescent behavior throughout middle school and the snarky, artsy-but-still-sciency identity I performed through most of high school. Who probably tried to figure out why my handwriting and spelling were so terrible in elementary school. There are so many teachers there whose names I’ve forgotten, but who had a huge impact on the person I am today. So, to all the teachers I’ve had, thanks. And I really hope, someday, the kids for whom I wasn’t the teacher they needed at the time, that someday they’ll look back and know that I did the best I could too.