Because of the constant thirst for economic success that our more competitive than ever society possess, many jobs that are integral to the success of others are often overlooked. One of these jobs is teaching. While, of course, there are occasional prestigious professors at private universities that are paid high amounts of money to share their immense knowledge with eager millennials, the vast majority are largely undervalued. According to the National Education Association in the 2012-2013 school year, the average national starting salary for teachers was just over $36,000. Not to say any of the following jobs are not valued by some, but considering the large worth of good teachers in our growing population, it is shocking to see that teachers are often paid less than dog walkers, tollbooth workers, and house sitters.

Now, the purpose of this article is not to rage about the teacher’s pay gap. It’s to acknowledge that nowadays, many people are teaching for all of the wrong reasons. All it takes is one bitter teacher who hates his or her job because of its low pay and long hours to ruin a child’s outlook on education. However, there are few astounding teachers out there that are truly passionate about having a hand in developing the minds of the upcoming generation. It is those people that inspire, motivate, and challenge students to be the best they can be, even when the whole world around them is telling them they can’t.

To the teacher that never let me reach perfection, thank you.

While you consistently frustrated me, you helped me realize that what is considered perfect is not represented by a number or some quantitative measurement. I applied this to so many aspects of my life...the number of college acceptances I received, the number listed on my report cards, and the number on the scale - no number is perfect because perfect is unattainable. What is attainable, though, is the ability to be self-content, no matter what numerical labels society places on you. I am pleased with who I am because of you, and the self-confidence you gave me that allowed me to not conform to society’s definition of success.

To the teacher that took a chance on me, thank you.

Leadership is something that is truly never earned, as we all make mistakes, but you gave me the opportunity to grow more than I ever thought was possible. I learned that while the easy way to lead is tyranny, the right way is to be an example. I worked hard not for myself, but to motivate others. To be given a purpose that is so much more than self-accomplishment was more meaningful than anything else I’ve ever experienced. While, of course, celebrating my own feats under your direction was a fantastic feeling, watching others succeed was just as, if not more exciting.

To the teacher that always challenged me, thank you.

Though I was young, I will never forget all of the things that your competition oriented class did for me and my desire to learn. Once I reached a goal, it was immediately on to the next one. You taught me to never settle, to always push myself, and to not let anyone else tell me what I was capable of.

To the teacher that took the seriousness out of the classroom by livening it up with humor, thank you.

So many kids dread school just because of the sheer boredom of many classes. Making learning fun is such an important concept and I am so thankful that, because of you, school was not given a dreadful connotation.

To the teacher that didn’t view me as a student, but rather a person, thank you.

In this midst of this crazy world that is centered around acceptance and success, it was always refreshing to know in your eyes, success wasn’t always academic or even social, but rather individual. You took the time to know my goals and aspirations and applauded me each step of my journey.

To the teachers that view their work as nothing more than preaching a textbook and grading exams, please realize that your role in this world is worth so much more than that.

As cliche as it sounds, if it weren’t for each of the teachers described above, I would not at all be the person I am today. You have the primary role in shaping our future. You could have a hand in the developing the next President of the United States, the curer of cancer, or the pacifist that helps us reach world peace. YOU are in charge of what’s to come. Please, realize how important that is.