Appreciation: recognition of the quality, value, significance, or magnitude of people and things.
This appears to be Teacher Appreciation week by all of the wonderful accolades being showered on the special ones that make learning fun and memorable. Kudos to everyone that takes the time to do that. It is wonderful to let someone know the incredible impact that they’ve had on your life. We just don’t do this enough!
I always always always LOVED school! I loved the cadence of the school year as it builds throughout the seasons enfolding all of my favorite holidays inside them. I loved the Christmas and Spring breaks that allowed us to catch our breaths. I loved looking forward to summer vacation as the reward for a year well done. I guess I loved learning, for learning’s sake, but it would not have been so had it not been for the extraordinary people that inspired that love. I’ve had many wonderful teachers and I thank them all, but a few stand head and shoulders above the rest in my timeline and my undying appreciation is especially for them. I wish I could physically go back, and face-to-face tell them, hug them, and inspire them with my heartfelt words of thanks, but for some, it is not possible.
It goes way back, I’ve discovered. Before I even started school, my Grandmother made me want to learn things. She was a teacher and she started me off very young with reading and writing. I played school before I actually got to go. She taught me that books were my friend, and gave me my lifelong love of reading. I think I was writing in cursive before I went to first grade. ( What’s cursive, you ask? Look it up. It was an ancient form of writing and is now apparently extinct!!) This early influence set the tone for me.
In grade school, my absolute favorite was Mr. Lazzo. He was EPIC. I wanted to be a teacher because of him. When the word “school” is mentioned, I take a giant mental leap and find myself in his classroom. I learned more in my 6th grade year than many other grades combined. He had a gruff exterior and some students were actually afraid of him. But very quickly I pealed back the layers, as children are apt to do, to see a man that encouraged our creativity and our uniqueness. He fostered in us the desire to SEEK knowledge, an active mindset, rather than the passive one of merely being FED. I can never thank him enough for what he gave me.
In Junior High, I had a Biology teacher named Mrs. Bobbi Christanson. She was gorgeous AND she handled snakes! I was so impressed with the dichotomy of these two things that I, too, endeavored to handle snakes. THAT never happened, but she instilled in me a love of all living things. Her classroom was a treasure trove filled with aquariums, terrariums, microscopes, and creatures. It was a veritable Curiosity Shoppe. I wanted to be a scientist that year and for many years after. Maybe a part of me still does! All these years later, I gravitate toward learning about living things because of her.
In High School, I had two math teachers that I loved and adored….Mr. George Thompson and Miss Rachel Counts. They actually made me love math, which is no easy feat to accomplish. They were patient and kind and so caring toward their students. They inspired a confidence in my ability to learn things when I didn’t think I was capable. That feeling was an attribute that transcended math and became a life skill. It was a springboard that enabled me to leap many hurdles later in life.
And then there was Coach Spellman. I never had him as a teacher, but as a swimming coach, he was in a league of his own. He pushed me, he inspired me, he challenged me, he made me laugh and cry and get so angry at times that I was ready to spit nails, but he made me better. He forced me to push my boundaries and realize that we never get stronger without working hard and putting forth the effort. It may also involve a little pain. I guess that No pain No gain saying speaks the truth! Again, those became essential life skills.
And so, it is with a heart overflowing with appreciation that I remember these wonderful teachers today. I am sure that I am one of thousands they impacted in their selfless years of service given to a profession that doesn’t recognize the extreme efforts of time, blood, sweat, and tears poured into each of their days. But I do……I do…..I am forever changed because of it.
A good teacher is like a candle – it consumes itself to light the way for others ~ Mustafa Kemal Ataturk