It wasn't my aim to grow up and be a blogger.
Well, let's be honest. The internet was invented sometime when I was little. So email, online streaming and blogs were nothing but mere dreams of science fiction fans. No one dreamed of being a blogger back then. Or someone who had the ability to telecommute via the internet. Or living on the moon. Because such things didn't exist.
But I digress.
Let me rephrase: I never thought I'd grow up to be a writer.
Perhaps I am taking liberties here, calling myself a writer and all. You might not see me as a writer. Heck. I don't really see myself as a writer. But it's kind of what I do, isn't it? Write stuff? On this blog? With reasonable grammar and maybe even a little bit of witty banter?
I've always liked writing, and if I had to choose a subject that I excelled in more than others, it was English. And while I enjoyed creating stories, I was never compelled to take it any further. I never actually thought I had any writing ability.
Until my junior year of high school.
During 11th grade (and half of 12th), I had an amazing English teacher. We didn't just read books, we analyzed. We discussed. We debated. It was during this year of English that I learned to think, truly think about what I was reading and writing. I started understanding the complexities of writing, the beauty in meaning. And this teacher, she really read our writing. Her hang ups were never on spelling (although she pushed us to have proper spelling and grammar); rather, it was on being better. She would point out a phrase or a paragraph and give feedback such as, "I can see the idea you are trying to convey, and I know you can develop this better." I received countless papers back without a grade, because she knew I was so close to grasping the tone or the style the project called for. She knew I could be better, and she never let me settle for less.
I got straight A's in her class.
I appreciate teachers because my 11th grade English teacher, Ms. Masar, always called me to be better.
I appreciate teachers because my 5th grade teacher, Mr. Poskitt, saw my drive and potential. Even as a ten year old. So he allowed me to create a class newspaper and run it as the editor. I managed my fellow students, and we created several issues of a very humble 5th grade class paper, complete with articles, reviews, recipes and comics. I learned a lot about leadership, conflict resolution and the frustrations of the editorial process that year.
I appreciate teachers because my elementary school Phys Ed teacher, Ms. Pequnia, never made me feel bad for being nonathletic. She never called me out or embarrassed me. I was never belittled in front of my peers. Rather, I was spurred on. And after years of trying to accomplish a pull up for the Presidential Physical Fitness test and failing, I finally completed one. Actually, I completed two. It took until 4th grade. But she was right there, celebrating my accomplishment.
I appreciate teachers because I had a social studies teacher named Doc Spadoni. And he taught me the word "peruse" and found ways to work humor into what would have been an otherwise very boring year of Western World. Doc managed to make the subject fun.
I appreciate teachers because I had an elementary school art teacher who knew that creativity started in the mind. Mr. Barney didn't just stick paint brushes in our hand and expect us to create a picture. He first gave us pictures by telling us folktales from other cultures. He was an amazing story teller. And the words that left his lips wove detailed pictures in our young minds. The art from our hands followed.
I appreciate teachers because my husband wakes up every day with the mission to educate high school students. And he loves it. He loves watching his students make connections, the camaraderie with his coworkers, and the impact he is having on his community.
It humbles me that there are people whose chosen profession is simply to mold the minds of tomorrow. These teachers spend their days making sure that our future communities are filled with well-educated mothers, fathers, artists, architects, doctors, park rangers, writers, engineers, butchers, bakers, and candlestick makers.
Yet, they've been made the enemy.
Everyone has an opinion about their performance. As public servants, teacher contracts and incomes come under community scrutiny. Instead of having the opportunity to inspire and motivate, they are harangued for test scores and curriculum mapping. I am disheartened that the very district that gave me my education has a school board in place that villianizes teachers to the public. In a time when we could be focusing on how to best teach our children, teachers are being paraded in the media as money-hungry, lazy and greedy. The very same teachers who opt to stay in a job that has had a pay freeze for 3 years due to "budgetary restrictions," yet administrators get raises.
It takes an honorable person to choose the profession of teaching.
And I am the who I am today because of the education I received from 13 years of giving, inspiring and challenging teachers.
So today, Teacher Appreciation Day, I applaud you, teachers.
I know how difficult your job is. I know the criticism you face in spite of the passion you have. I know the long hours outside of your contract that you work for the benefit of your students, for your school. I know that you continue to educate yourself so you are better at your job. I know that most people would balk at the idea of having their work contract and income a publicly-decided commodity.
And I know that, despite the obstacles you encounter, you love what you do.
Because every day?
Every day you show up.
You show up amidst the challenges and criticism and chaos, and you teach.
You have chosen the better thing, friends.
And I could not be more in awe of the amazing work you do.
I'd love to hear from you:
Who are the teachers that have impacted your life?
Take a moment and leave a comment to appreciate the teachers inspired you, challenged you and pushed you to be better. Thank the teachers who helped you become who you are today.