Recently, I attended the 8th grade graduation of one of my brothers. He goes to the same small Christian school that I went to, so the graduation ceremony was nearly identical to my 8th grade graduation. Even though I was familiar with the order and events of the ceremony, there was one thing that caught my attention more than before.
After the graduates entered, the teachers came in behind them walking down the aisle to take their seats in the first few rows. It is not just the middle school teachers who do this, but teachers from the elementary, as well, who taught the graduating class in the past. For some reason, this part of the graduation ceremony made me stop and reflect.
Sitting there pointing out to my cousins some of my own elementary and middle school teachers, I realized how much of an impact these people had been on my life. These individuals walking down the aisle after the graduates changed me in more ways than they will ever know. I still remember their names, what their voices sound like, some of their favorite phrases, and the list goes on. I could even point out my kindergarten teacher from over thirteen years ago and remember my teachers from other years, as well.
That specific part of the ceremony made me especially grateful to have had the opportunity to attend an amazing school with phenomenal teachers. These people took the time to help me when I struggled with things, school and otherwise. They taught me about the world around me in ways that gave me the curiosity to explore topics outside of class. And they gave me a love for learning that I am beyond grateful for. Without the patience and guidance of countless phenomenal teachers, I would not find near as much joy in discovering new things and challenging myself through learning.
Because of the dedication and kindness of teachers from elementary school all the way to college, I now want to pursue a career in teaching. So many of my proudest moments would never be possible without teachers pouring into me. I feel that the best way to thank these amazing people is to be that person for someone else.
So teachers, please let this be an encouragement to you. You have more influence than you think. Your words and actions really do change lives, and hopefully for the better. And for every "thank you" that you do get, there are more that have gone unsaid.
There are so many teachers that I have not been able to properly thank. If you have ever taught me and are reading this, please know that I am so grateful for your dedication to teaching. You have inspired me in countless ways. Thank you for opening my eyes to the world around me. You are a gift from God, and I will forever be thankful for you.