To the teachers who taught me more than what's in the books,

I am the first one to say that I complained (and still do sometimes) about growing up in such a small town. The only thing to do most of the time is go to Friday night games, and then race to Applebee's afterwards for half-off appetizers. I wanted what the movies portrayed high school to be: fun, exciting, and the best four years of my life, and because I went in with those expectations, I was discouraged for a long time. What I didn't realize until I left was how unique of a situation I was in. Here, in this small town, I had more people cheering for me than just my family, and didn't acknowledge it until I was sitting in my dorm room wishing I had someone to talk to.

The teachers who taught me for the first half of my life deserve more than what I gave them, and certainly more than what some students still there give them. Everyday, they leave their house and care for kids who are not their own, and are placed with the responsibility of educating the next generation. Although I only now realize the weight that they take, I still want to give my utmost gratitude to those who raised me in those hallways, because you are the reason I'm in the position I am in today.

To my AP Teachers, thank you for being the ones who prepared me the most for my academic future. In your classes, I learned how to study, apply myself, and realize my capability was more than. However, this wasn't just due to the academic side. I found success because I was pushed and encouraged to do and be my best everyday. If I didn't do as well as expected on an assignment, I wasn't scolded or looked down on. I was simply walked through what I did right and what I can improve on. Building a positive learning environment allowed me to grow. It's through here that I found my academic confidence in subjects I was only mediocre at the first day I walked into their classroom.

To my sophomore year geometry teacher, thank you for being the first teacher to sit down and make me believe that I was smart enough to succeed in a subject that gave me so much anxiety. You taught me that there was more in me that I could have ever thought of as long as I got out of my own head first. The countless hours I spent crying out of frustration because of other math classes at your desk are not taken for granted. You spent hours of your own time teaching me other teachers' subjects, allowing me to succeed outside of your classroom. Your kindness, grace, and words of encouragement will never leave not only me, but all of the other students you impacted as well.

Most of all, to my senior year English teacher, thank you for being my friend. There is no one else I would have wanted to force me to read some of the dullest literature in the world all the way to being the one who hugged me when my cat died on the last day of high school and I couldn't stop crying about it. Coming back to visit you on breaks is one of the things I look forward to the most. You, and the cupcakes you bring in on special days, are so special to so many.

And to all the other teachers who educated me in the first thirteen years of my life, each of you left a part of yourself in me that is still here today. I wasn't always thankful for the role you played in my life at the time, and for that I am so sorry. It took me going to college and finding myself writing emails to those back home to realize how much I would miss the unwavering support.

To conclude, I want to address directly those who will have these teachers after me. Be good to them, listen, and get off your damn phones. I cannot stress enough how important it is to build a relationship with them, because before you know it, you'll be sitting in a lecture hall with professors who won't know your name and probably won't care enough to. The small town life isn't always the best life, but this is something that shouldn't be taken for granted, because the real world won't care about you like they do.

With love,

Maddy