I have great admiration for people who dedicate their lives to educating children. It takes a special heart to have that passion that burns deep within, creating the desire to pass on knowledge.
Sometimes I think that teachers don’t realize the impact they make on lives. Or, maybe they do. But whatever the case might be, I want to share a few stories about how my life has been impacted by a number of teachers, but especially one in particular.
First I want to say that sometimes their influence can be negative. But luckily, that’s rare! My example is an experience from grade school. I had a PE teacher tell me that I was uncoordinated. Of course I believed him. Prior to that revelation, I loved to run. (I have very long legs!) After he said what he did, I essentially gave up on athletics. Even in high school when I grew to a height of six feet, I refused to go out for basketball. The basketball coach urged me to try, but I gracefully declined. Instead, I focused my energy on music and drama. And honestly, I was happy. I didn’t feel my life was cheated by not being in athletics. But I often wonder if I would have had a different attitude if that PE teacher had told me that I just needed to try a little harder and I would succeed.
So, enough about the negative.
My young mind begged to be filled with new ideas. I thank God for Mrs. Banks. She was my fourth grade teacher at Sherwood Elementary in Edmonds, Washington. Maybe someone else out there reading this was lucky enough to have her for a teacher. She encouraged me to push myself a little harder in every subject. From math to writing, and everything in between.
I moved away from Washington after fifth grade, but never lost touch with her. Every year we’ve exchanged Christmas cards and letters. When I wrote my first children’s story, I sent her a copy and she encouraged me to publish. I should have listened to her, but at that time I didn’t pursue it. Maybe I was a little scared. Still, she never gave up on me. Yesterday I received a wonderful note from her telling me that she can’t wait to read my novels. I wonder if she knows how much her encouragement pushed me to keep writing?
Thank you, Mrs. Banks, for being that incredible gem who genuinely cared about her students. Your heart is golden.
I want to also mention my sixth grade teacher, Mrs. McPeak. I was the new girl in town and she welcomed me with open arms, and warm hugs. She introduced me to my friend, Diane, who is still one of my best friends. Mrs. McPeak wasn’t afraid to tell us that God loves us. I know that’s frowned upon nowadays, but back then it was part of who she was, and something she felt compelled to share. She looked after us and even opened her home to us for a pool party during our summer break. Thank you, Mrs. McPeak, for being a bright light in my young life.
My love of history was impacted in high school thanks to Mr. Batchelder. He wasn’t the kind of teacher who stood in front of us and told us to read such-and-such a chapter. He brought history to life by telling us the stories. He put so much enthusiasm in his teaching that it made me want to learn more. It was obvious, he loved history. He passed that on to me. So, thank you, Mr. Batchelder, for inspiring me to write about what I love.
And to all those other teachers out there, know this. You’re impacting lives. Maybe you don’t know it now, but one little individualized comment could be the thing that pushes your student to do something incredible with their life. And if you happen to have one that trips over her own feet, just tell her to try a little harder and she’ll succeed.