Underappreciated and underpaid. Overworked and overlooked. This is what being a high school teacher is. You have students that raise hell every time they raise their hand. You are questioned and undermined. You are disrespected and disregarded most days of the week, even by me.

I made your job way too hard for what I would have viewed as too little reason. Yet you didn't. You never decided your job was too much to handle. You continued to answer my questions in class regardless of the hairs I was turning grey on your head. You took the time to understand me, and used it to open my eyes to new concepts. It's as if you knew exactly where I would go in life, so you put your time into me. You valued me. But do you know that I wouldn't be this person if you had not pushed my limits? Do you know that I can move on to greater things because you saw them within me?

And I never took the time to say thank you.

I grew up in a town where the school I attended, that we all attended, was made into a joke. If someone misspelled a word or answered a question incorrectly they would simply reply, "It's because I went to Momence." And everyone would laugh and throw insults at the education system that we were all a part of. And constantly hearing it, I thought maybe it was true that I would never be more than a small, run-down town. Now I can't help but to think it made you feel like you failed.

I promise you, you did not fail. I am so thankful for all you have done for me. Whether it was helping me understand the constitution, or understand why life had thrown me a curve ball. From listening to me cry about tests, to listening to me cry about heart break. You did so much more than just teach me about a textbook. You taught me about myself, about my future, about this life. You have shared with me and so many others exactly what we need to take the next step. You have laid out a framework for our success. You sparked our interest and given us a hunger for more. I'm only sorry it took me this long to realize all you have given me. But even more, that it took me this long to thank you.

Thank you for taking on the challenge that was me. Thank you for never believing in a lost cause. Thank you for your time, your effort, your support. Thank you for pushing our limits and pulling our doubts. Thank you for the inspiration and motivation. Thank you for being the one to make the difference. Thank you for getting me through high school. Thank you for being a teacher.