Tuesday, May 6, 2014

For my teachers

Today is teacher appreciation day. The day when students everywhere pause and tell their teachers how amazing they are. Ok, or not. It is really more a day when the PTSA puts on a lunch and teachers tell each other how great they are.

All joking aside, I had a nice teacher appreciation day for a few reasons. I ran into Mrs. Kenney, who is the teacher that inspired me to pursue my career. I also got a lovely message from a former student, Abbie, about my influence in her life. It was so unexpected and sweet. Then, other former students from my first year of teaching onward left notes about how they enjoyed my classes. In what can be a very thankless job, the sweet messages that my former students wrote were very uplifting. This time of year is so busy and stressful that it was nice to read such validating things.

As a teacher, I frequently think of the educators who inspired, and continue to inspire me. I can remember, from pre-school onward, every single teacher (by name) who taught me. Each teacher shared his or her gifts with me and my classmates and worked to make us better learners and people. I remember always having a deep appreciation for my teachers without knowing just how challenging the job can be. It wasn't until I became a teacher seven years ago that I fully realized the emotional, physical, and mental demands of the job. Teachers are nothing short of super heroes. I may say that as a teacher, but I mean it as a student and a parent. I felt loved and cared for at school because my teachers made me feel safe and comfortable. They let me know that my learning was important, that it was ok to make a mistake, and that I was always worth it. This year, Lily is in school with her first school teacher, Ms. Julie. When I get home from work on Mondays and Fridays, Lily gushes about Ms. Julie. My mom said that Ms. Julie even has a special chair ready right next to her for Lily to sit in. My little girl truly loves her teacher, and Ms. Julie clearly knows what Lily needs. I am so glad that Lily's first school experience is so positive.

And, now, a quick moment to acknowledge some teachers who I truly and deeply appreciate...

Mrs. Kenney- my 10th grade English teacher who taught so that even the most reluctant learner couldn't help but be captivated. Who cared about each of her students like they were her daughters. Who taught me lessons far beyond her classroom. The teacher who inspired me to teach. Mrs. Kenney will always have a special place in my heart.

Professor Cole- the professor who supervised, guided, and edited (questioned why I was so careless with comma usage...) my senior thesis. What a journey. The experience really help craft my writing, and gave me so much confidence in my abilities as a scholar. My thesis topic- Stephan Crane's publication history- was a topic that was presented in the class I took with Professor Cole called "The Book in America". This class piqued my interest in researching the publication history of an author as a gateway to better understanding his or her literature. It has also grounded much of what I teach in my AP class. Thanks, Professor Cole.

Peggy Zink, Jenna Zava-Taylor, and Katie Righter- My mentor teachers who guided me through my student teaching. As a teacher mentor for teaching candidates, I appreciate the role these women had in my life much differently now. Thank you for pushing me, supporting me, and allowing me to grow into my own as a teacher. You are all wonderful women. I am grateful for your guidance and admire each of you as teachers.

My co-workers in the English Dept. (Bob, Chris, Mindy, Becky, Sarah, Gabe, Angela, and Elaine)- The gifts each of you possess, the support you give your students (and me), the compassion you show make you wonderful teachers. You all have such unique gifts and I count myself so lucky to teach with you. Thanks for sharing your talents with me, and pushing me to be a better teacher.

There are countless other teachers who I could name here. I am lucky that way-- that I had and have so many positive influences in my life. To all of you, thank you for doing what you do. Happy Teacher Appreciation Day.

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