My family and I paid tribute to a very special man this past Friday. My grandpa's life was honored by many as we gathered to tell stories of his past, commemorated his time serving our country, and grieved together as a family.
The time together was precious. In the midst of the laughter at my grandpa's stories, something stood out to me that I want to hang on to forever.
My grandpa was a teacher and impacted the students that filled the chairs of his classroom beyond the eight periods of a day.
Peppered throughout the service were past students of my grandpas teaching days. He taught high school English at Ferndale High School for 25 years and touched many lives in the process.
As I listened to the graduate students rave about how much Mr. Steiner impacted their lives, I couldn't help but think of those teachers from my high school days that have left a permanent imprint of their wisdom, care and intelligence on my own life.
I have not given these teachers enough credit.
So, I want to say thank you. A simple but honest thank you.
I am very aware that while in high school, I thought I knew it all. I argued with you, thought I knew best, cared most about myself, and was determined that I was right. Yet, you were patient through it all and knew how to love me in spite of it. I think I can speak for many past students when I say thank you.
You were patient.
You magically drew out my strengths and challenged me to use them. You presented opportunities for me to lead, to learn and to develop. You gave me enough room to fall down, were faithful to help pick me up, and provided room for me to grow in the process.
You gave your time.
You chose to care about the things I cared about.
Thank you for teaching me content, yes. Solving equations, drawing themes from literature, and reading music all are known now because of you. But beyond the content, you taught me something even more valuable. You taught me to love learning, and you taught me the need to never stop.
My grandpa did all of these things. Although I may have never had the honor of being the pupil of the legendary English teacher who was known for playing his banjo during class, I can't help but think of some of my past high school teachers who impacted me in similar ways.
As a high school teacher myself now, I am humbled to think of how much my own teachers cared for me.
Teachers, please know you are invaluable. We may not do a very good job at thanking you for what you do, but please know you have left an impact.
I know it is hard to see the impact you have made sometimes. But it is there. The depth of your calling is deeper than I will ever be able to articulate, and the imprints you have made on people's lives will be passed on forever.
Whether you are still teaching, you have retired, or have passed on, know you have many students who appreciate you. Your job is special, necessary and vital to the shaping of the generations after you.
So, to my many teachers from my past, thank you.