School is no joke. Whether it's elementary, high school, or college, almost every move we make paves the way for our future selves and the opportunities we'll have. As a college student, I come closer to the realization of this fact more and more every day. I look back and think about the major and minor things that I did, words that people have said, lessons I've learned and trials I've gone through that have literally shaped me into the human being that I am today. With those thoughts, I can't help but think of those who harbored my growth. Those who taught me more and more about the world and myself every day so I could eventually become the grateful and tenacious young adult I am today. Dear teachers, you've done more for me than I ever could fathom.
I remember being in high school classes, when seemingly everyone vied for attention by being the loudest or funniest person in the room, almost like we never got enough attention at home. We always seemed to forget that our enjoyment was at the expense of those who were willing and ready to teach us. We acted like fools on a daily basis (I refuse to believe you if you say you never acted out in class). But no matter what, the teachers who instilled knowledge into the brains of my classmates and myself never failed to show up every day with seemingly endless life lessons that I reflect on to this day.
It's amazing how essential the small moments are. Imagine being back in eleventh grade. Only sixteen, you're seemingly invincible but don't realize all the untapped potential you have at your feet. A teacher approaches you after class, explains to you that they want you to apply to this program for after-school internships, and helps you realize that there are actually other people out there who believe in you. This was my story, and literally five words from my junior year English teacher changed my life.
Sitting in the back of class one day I never had any clue that I, of all people, was being paid attention to by any teachers I currently had. My English teacher approached me one day and told me about one of the after-school programs she had previously mentioned to the entire class. She asked if I applied, I told her no, and she then said: "When I mentioned this program to the class, I had you in mind." Now I know that doesn't seem so major, but understand to a young adult who barely believes in himself, it's a game changer.
Fast forward a bit, I applied to the internship program, was accepted, and stayed with the beloved arts institution known as the Brooklyn Academy of Music for nearly three years. I felt powerful, I felt loved, I felt fully capable and ready to challenge the world as a young minority excited to show the world what he was made of. All of this because my teacher basically said she believed in me.
That was once, in comparison to the many experiences I've had with teachers that have helped me realize I was more than I thought I was. Teachers, please realize that your words can change a student's life, even when everything seems to be headed downhill. I know for a fact that if my teacher didn't approach me with those few words, I wouldn't be anywhere near where I am today. For every life lesson that my music teacher taught me that my father didn't. Every conversation about society that my class had with our Spanish teacher. Every opportunity my drama teacher fought to provide me with. Every kind word of belief from my English teachers; every math teacher that told me to never give up; every science teacher that let me explore my imagination; and every helping hand from guidance counselors that pointed me in every which way to apply to any college I could.
This is only my story, but this is for anyone who feels they can relate. We may look at them like they're major hard-asses sometimes, but usually, every action your teacher takes to provide you with an education is one with good reason. Instead of taking them for granted, try to understand why they teach the lessons they teach, and you may be able to go much further than you ever thought you could. Any lesson, any conversation, any word, may change your perspective on what you thought you could do in this world. Sometimes, it doesn't take much to unlock the person you knew you could always be. When you receive recognition from those who are set to teach you, it turns you into a person with seemingly endless possibilities.
For every teacher that has taken time out of their lives to instill in me lessons I'll never forget, I thank you. I thank you because without you I would not be where I am today. I would not be as confident, as strong, nor as happy, if it weren't for the experiences and words I've shared with you all. If you ever believe what you're doing isn't appreciated, take these words and use them. I say to you, that I, along with many students across the world, appreciate you for everything you've done. You help open the minds and accelerate the success of youth all over the world so that one day, they can be the leaders they dream of being.
For all of my teachers past and present, this student thanks you.