As a new freshman in college, I’m going to go through many professors in the next four years of my life. Making connections with them and determining who will be the ones who help me through the next four years, and who will just be another professor who teaches me for a quarter (my school runs on quarters, not semesters), will be difficult- but I’ve already found a few teachers whom I really want to keep in touch with.
But, before I even got here, I realized the ones who got me to where I am- my high school, middle school, and elementary school teachers. They were the ones who set up my success and had to teach me based on how well the previous teacher taught and hope that all the students did well in the previous year- especially in math. I was lucky that I got teachers who motivated me and always helped me without a second thought. But, I also had the teachers who made it difficult to learn and killed my motivation to try and do well in it, even when I wasn’t that great at the subject- like math (even though I was a grade ahead) and physics.
During my senior year of high school, towards the end of the year, I wanted to write a thank you letter to each of the teachers I had during my high school career. I only had 2 teachers who weren’t there anymore, and had a few teachers I had multiple years (i.e. foreign language, choir, P.E.). So, it made it a huge task, but something I felt like I should do. But, I never did. Now I have my chance.
To all my elementary school teachers: You were the ones who set me up for success originally. Without such great elementary school teachers, I couldn’t do even the simplest of things- reading, writing, math. Not only that, but you also in a way have to act as parents. You teach us social skills, make sure we’re taken care of when we get hurt, teach us discipline, and make sure we learn to be overall good people. You quickly learn where our strengths and weaknesses academically are and help us do better where we’re weak, make sure we get the help we need to keep up with the material; but also motivate and encourage us in our best subjects. I still keep in contact with many of my old elementary teachers, but many of them are retired now. Either way, without having them, I wouldn’t have known the basics and could never have moved on to any sort of higher education.
To all my middle school teachers: You were the ones who took my basics and expanded them and started to shape them. You were with us while we were going through puberty and we were trying to figure ourselves out, and probably didn’t care too much about what was going on in class. But, still you stuck with us and tried to help many of us. Middle school kids are hard to deal with. Our personalities start to develop, cliques form, friends are lost and made. It’s very much the years where we start thinking of what others think of us, and start worrying about relationships. You guys have to compete with us to make sure we get an education, rather than focusing on ourselves. It’s not easy. But, at the same time, we do find teachers and classes that we fall in love with. Classes we’re willing to put the time and effort into doing well in and pay attention in because we want to or simply because we like it. This is when we start realizing what subjects we like and what we hate.
I know for me, I absolutely loved my choir and hand bells classes. Without those class and having an amazing teacher- who was like a mom to me- I know I wouldn’t have stayed sane during middle and high school. She encouraged my love for music and opened me to whole new one as well. I also had an amazing algebra teacher who always wanted to make sure we did well in his class. But, he taught it in such a motivating way. He encouraged us to always offer answers to solutions, because being wrong isn’t a bad thing, and to not be scared if you offer up an answer that no one else has- because it might be right. He helped during tests by helping us work through problems we didn’t understand, so we could get the best grade possible. I still remember to this day a quote he said when I told him thank you for offering tutoring (as I was struggling in his class), and he said, “Well, the grade you get on the report card doesn’t matter too much. I think people focus on that too much and they don’t really learn the material the way they should. I’d rather you get a C in my class, but be able to say that understand how to do everything, than get an A but have no idea what we’re doing.” I’m still so thankful to have had him as a teacher, whether he remembers me or not.
To all my high school teachers: Thank you for preparing me for college. You also have a hard job as well. It’s difficult to put up with high school teenagers. We’re really in a state of mind of usually thinking of ourselves, relationships, friendships, family problems, drama, and what others think of us. I’m happy to say that I worked hard in high school and connected with many of my teachers. But, high school teachers put up with a lot, and have to deal with students who truly don’t care about being there or how well they do, but also have to deal with students who may be smart but don’t try, or students who don’t do well but want try so hard to get good grades. I managed seven classes, and eight my senior year. I was a grade ahead math and excelled in English.
This didn’t mean I struggled though. I hated math, and had a teacher who killed my motivation to do well in the class and didn’t help me- the student teacher helped me more than she ever did. I hated physics and the teacher didn’t ever give much help when I asked questions- though I was lucky and was one of the only ones who excelled in that class (but I usually had no idea what was going on). But, I was lucky to have gotten amazing English teachers who was open to not only teaching, but was there to talk to us about personal problems. My AP Lang/Comp teacher opened me to learning everything, and really learning about what’s going on in the world, expanding my mind, knowledge, and opinions, but also learning how to give a proper argument. I hated writing so many essays, but I can truly say I enjoyed his class, and try to really learn about a subject before forming an opinion.
I got to learn American Sign Language because my school was lucky enough to have a teacher who was an interpreter for many years and also got a teaching degree. She opened me to a whole new world, culture, and way of looking at the Deaf community. I’m friends with a few deaf and hard-of-hearing people, and I’ve been able to teach a few of my friends some signs. It’s even come in handy with working with children, and gives me an ability to talk to other people, especially special needs children who may not be deaf, but use ASL, to communicate with them and know what they want when my other coworkers may not.
I felt so incredibly prepared for college because of them. Even if I sometimes went against what they suggested, it’s because I had a structured plan put out that made sense and worked in my favor. I got lucky to have high school teachers who motivated me and helped me when needed- especially three out of my four math teachers who worked hard to make sure all their students understood what was being taught and helped them to do well in the class. I was lucky to have middle school teachers who opened my eyes to subjects I previously hated and opened my mind to new ones. I was lucky to have elementary teachers who set me up for the rest of my life and wanted to see me succeed. All school teachers are important, no matter what grade they teach. I’m happy that I’m still in contact with a few of my teachers, especially one from high school who I had all four years. Her class helped me figure out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, she was there for me personally, and is like my mom (I nicknamed her my school mom). I can’t wait to see what new connections I make and see how my new professors motivate me to grow and in learn in my classes and faith; but to all my previous teachers that I had or didn’t have but got to know- thank you. Without you, I wouldn’t be who I am today or where I am today. Everything that I’m doing in school and who I am is because of you guys, and I think that’s pretty cool. I hope you knew all this already. But, if not, thank you.