As the school year begins, I thought it would be an appropriate time to ask teachers to put down that wine the kids drive you to drink and maybe read a bit about why you matter.
To my powerful teachers:
I was a good student, if you remember. I realize it may not come across as such now due to the frivolous amount of swearing ’round these parts, but I was. (And sometimes the f-bomb needs to be dropped, okay?) I really enjoyed school. Sure there were crummy times during school, but overall, I look back with a quiet, soft smile that only nostalgia can bring and that I probably didn’t recognize during my school days.
You see, my home life was chaotic. You may not have known that, in fact, I may not have presented it as anything other than perfect. School was my solace; a place where I felt valued and that I was contributing something, even on days when it was only to my ever-expanding education.
I often joked that I lived at school, but there’s a shred of truth to that. I was home there.
Laughing in the hallways behind the theatre. Waking up way too early for student government meetings. Spending countless hours in the television studio editing videos. Cheering on friends as they won games, accolades or that hot date to the Sadie Hawkins dance. (Please note: that was not me. I got turned down. Please reference “crummy days” from above. That chap missed out on one awesome gal.)
I often talk to the hubster about how lucky I was to be surrounded by such a good group of friends during my school years. They are good nuggets. Most I’m still friends with to this very Facebook-driven day. I had a solid foundation of smart, funny, caring pals when, looking back, it probably would have been understandable to go down another path.
But school, and more importantly, teachers, shaped life-learning lessons and memories for me. They are the bridge to creating lasting effects on my mind and attitude.
I was the product of a tumultuous divorce, and with my dad living in a different state, home life often provided little reassurance I was doing something right. So my validation came from you. I also had little guidance since at home, it seemed I was a bit of an inconvenience at times. So my guidance also came from you.
You were there.
Sometimes you provided advice I didn’t want to hear. For instance, when I didn’t get into my top choice university, I was devastated. And devastated in only the way a teenager could be. Read: dramatic. Word made it through the teachers’ lounge, I suppose, and some were pretty surprised about the rejection. You gave me a magnet that read, “Bloom where you are planted.” I was simultaneously pissed and touched (and hormonal?).
“How could she just tell me to get over it?! Aw. That’s so sweet of her.”
In fact, you volunteered to drive me up to Michigan State University when you heard I hadn’t been there and that’s where I’d be going to school. Your enthusiasm as an alum will never be forgotten as you bopped around campus with me just to share that the school, “Wasn’t so bad.” Psst…you were right.
On the day of my high school graduation, you stood with me in the bathroom of the Masonic Temple in Detroit and carefully and reassuringly went over the speech I was about to give to oh, around 3,000 people. I knew I would be okay because you knew it. And you know what? I was. I nailed that speech, people.
I worked my tail off to get scholarships and was granted quite a few when I graduated. Some scholarships mail you a check and others ask you to attend a ceremony where you’re showered with praise. Most ceremonies required your parents to be there and I was going to have to attend another one alone for whatever reason. But guess who went with me? You.
You may not have known the home you offered for me, but you did, and I’m forever grateful for the lessons you taught me in and outside the classroom. Your work means something. I haven’t forgotten. I could never forget.
You may think a relatively normal, well-put together student who has good grades doesn’t need your inspiration and guidance, but she might. She did, in fact. She did. And you provided that and so, so much more for her.
So, thank you.
Thank you: Ms. Gannon, Mrs. Clark, Mrs. Guith, Mr. Bodick, Mr. Bates, Mr. Thoenes, Mrs. Weil, Señora Tucker, Mr. Bancroft, Mr. Schmidt, Mr. Moceri, Mr. Batroukh (Shah), Mrs. Gillan, Mrs. Schleicher, Dr. McCornack…and countless other teachers who provide priceless instruction in an often thankless job.
Don’t ever think for a moment that your job is forgettable. This gal in her thirties will haunt your dreams if you do. (See? I almost said ass instead of dreams and I respectfully held back. Willpower.)
Now get out there and mold some minds. After you finish that glass of wine, of course.
A forever grateful (and good looking) former student,