An Open Letter To The Teachers Who Inspired Me

Written on March 10th, 2016

Thank you. Thank you for arriving early and staying late everyday. Thank you for exercising more patience with your students than we’ve ever deserved. Thank you for dealing with our drama, our preconceived ideas, our stubbornness, our unwillingness to always appreciate our educations like we should. Thank you for putting your own life on hold as soon as the bell rings; thank you for leaving behind all of your own problems so that you can focus on ours. Thank you for investing everything you have into your classrooms. Thank you for doing it all for your students.

You have all been amazing influences and mentors to me. I have looked up to your diligence and experience every day. I recall searching for your faces in the crowded chairs at graduation, looking for those familiar expressions to ease my nerves as it came time for me to walk across the stage and step into adulthood in a whole new way. Your presence in my life was something it was easy to take for granted in high school, but as I’ve conquered my first semesters of college I’ve realized with renewed clarity just how valuable you were to me.

You made school not only bearable, but enjoyable. On my hardest days I looked forward to your classes and the joy I knew you’d bring me. In my most tired moments I found the strength to stay awake mostly out of respect for you. When things were falling apart with my friends I knew I had people I could go to; I knew there were people on my side. You always saw the value in me even when I couldn’t see it myself. You treated me not as a number or a test score, but as a human being with hopes and dreams and fears and strengths. It was never about how I did in your class – it was always about what I learned, how hard I tried, who I became. You reminded me, day in and day out, that I was more than the stress of studying and preparing for my future. You reminded me of my potential, and I will always be grateful for that.

It was never even about whether or not I liked your subject (although being the super nerd I am, I pretty much did love them all). But it was always more than that. You didn’t connect with students solely over their abilities to perform in your classroom or your shared passions; you connected over being human. You took the time to learn about your students and to understand them beyond scantrons and short answers. You remembered the things you heard and you offered affirmation, something too many high schools are left in want for these days. You provided more than just an education; you provided a sense of security, of belonging, a sense of home.

I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for you. The grace with which you handled your job and the love with which you looked at your students was far beyond average, and I have been so lucky to learn from each one of you. I hope you know the impact you’ve had on countless individuals – no matter how much you might want to pull out your hair at times, you are always making an immense positive difference. You are truly changing the world.

Thank you for all of the laughs, the epiphanies, the understanding and respect. Thank you for shaping me into the person I’m continuing to become today. Thank you for inspiring me to be kind, and to be brave, and most importantly open-minded. Thank you for assuring me of my own capability to make a difference in the world. From the tentative early days of middle school to the furious studying for AP tests years later, I’ve been blessed to be surrounded by wonderful people all the while.

I will always appreciate what you’ve done for me and what you continue to do for every student who passes through your classroom. You are all incredible individuals and I have so much love and respect for you. Keep on changing the world, one student at a time. Your job is one of the most important out there and I will never forget how much of my own development I owe to you.

Fondly,
The Student Who Will Never Stop Trying To Make You Proud