All the changes that college has brought have made me think a lot about the things I'm thankful for in my life, and I know one thing for certain: I wouldn't be where I am today without the teachers that have been there for me my whole life.

First and foremost, my mom is a teacher and seeing her at home and talking about her job always made me appreciative of what teachers have to go through and all the extra work they put in that oftentimes goes unnoticed. I don't have enough kind words for every teacher I've had, or even the ones who haven't taught me directly (AKA my mom's work friends who are like family), because they've all changed my life in some way, but there are a few I know I'll always remember.

When I was just a shy little six-year-old, my first-grade teacher taught me to speak up and use my "lion voice" that I'm sure my parents really appreciated once I started talking and wouldn't stop. I'm not the most outgoing person, but I'm a lot better off from all my teachers who have encouraged me to share my thoughts and feelings with others without fear or hesitation. This was also the first teacher to ever help me as I struggled through writer's block (although over 10 years later it's still a problem I run into).

Some would definitely call me a teacher's pet, and no year was this title more fitting than in the 5th grade. It was my teacher's first year at our elementary school, and it was my last, and I looked up to her in so many ways. Dealing with the kids in my class definitely was not easy at times, but she always was patient and showed me how easy it is to be kind to others and make others feel important and appreciated.

I always did well in school, but high school is where the work really piled up and the teachers I had then pushed me to be the best I could be and work to my fullest. I remember I was so scared my freshman year to take an AP history class and the first day with my teacher didn't help my anxiety a bit, but by the end of the year I loved her and I ended up taking a lot more classes I wouldn't have thought I could handle before.

One of these included an AP language course than had me up at all hours working and also introduced me to one of the best teachers I've gotten lucky to have. I know from these hard classes and amazing teachers that hard work pays off, and you can always do more than you might think.

The best teachers by far are the ones that make you feel more like friends than anything, who will listen and be there for you when things are difficult, in or out of school. I hope if any of them are reading this, they know who they are and that all of them, and all they've done for me, mean so much to me. And for everyone else reading, remember to always thank your teachers. They're already underpaid, they should never go unappreciated.