To The Teacher Who Is The Reason I Write

To The Teacher Who Is The Reason I Write

You have given me the confidence to do what I love and be confident in who I am.

Where do I even begin?

I remember the first time I met you. I was extremely intimidated by you. You radiated intelligence and my high school freshmen self didn't know what to do. I already knew you would be a trying teacher that challenged her students before I even had the chance to have you as a teacher myself.

The first time I had you as a somewhat teacher was my sophomore year of high school. I joined yearbook with my best friend at the time, but sadly we were put into different periods for yearbook. I was so intimidated that entire year - you have NO idea.

At this point in my life, I was really discovering my love for writing. I was realizing how easy and natural it came to me. I was excelling in everything that had to do with English and writing. Yearbook gave me a whole new way of looking at writing - in a more journalistic point of view.

I didn't know it yet but yearbook, and most importantly you, would be what led me to where I am today at Syracuse University.

I made it through sophomore year fine. I warmed up to you a bit more, but it wasn't until the following year, my junior year of high school, that I would really start to form a relationship with you.

I really started to focus on my writing and trying to create the best stories I could. I kept getting positive feedback from the editors that year and yourself. You were giving me articles to do on the side because you had confidence in my writing abilities. My confidence went from 0 to 100 real quick that year.

Then came the end of junior year. You designated me and the girl I began this yearbook journey with as the 2016-2017 editors for our senior year. I was so extremely happy and excited to be doing something I loved.

That year, my senior year, I had the privilege of having you as an English teacher as well. Not only was I receiving your guidance in a journalistic writing way, but also a more academic and creative way. I was getting the best of both worlds.

My senior year I continued to grow as a writer in all ways because of you. I craved your guidance and your feedback. I didn't just want positive feedback either. I wanted you to criticize me. I wanted to be the best I could be and you helped me do just that.

When college decision time came, the support I had had from you drove me to accept the challenge of the most prestigious communications school in America. I felt confident enough in my abilities to continue my writing and academic career there.

I knew I wasn't perfect and that I had miles to go yet, but I knew I was prepared for the hard work ahead because of you and all you had done for me.

I remember one moment during yearbook when I had to write a story for a spread and I cranked it out in one class period. You said that that was the fastest and most effective turn around you had seen by any of your editors. I am pretty sure I couldn't stop smiling the rest of that day.

The day I graduated and the last day I came in during the summer to finish the final touches of the yearbook were two of the saddest days of my life. I was saying goodbye not only to a mentor and teacher but someone who had become a friend and a huge part of my life.

When I left for college I took on new writing classes and new professors, but I still carried your teachings and your support with me. I wrote each paper confidently and with all the tips and tricks I had learned while having you as a teacher.

I joined The Odyssey because of the confidence you gave me, and you are a huge reason as to why I even started my own blog.

To conclude, I just want to say thank you. Thank you for being a constant support system in my life. Thank you for caring, not only for me but all your students. You have made impacts in many people's lives.

You are exactly what a teacher should be. You push your students, you form relationships with your students, and you only want them to succeed and chase their dreams. You prepare them not only for college but for life.

Every student should have the opportunity to have a teacher like you.

Thank you for everything you continue to do for me even though I am no longer your student. You have made an impact on me that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

Thank you,

Caitlin Johnston

Cover Image Credit: Caitlin Johnston

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The Coach That Killed My Passion

An open letter to the coach that made me hate a sport I once loved.

I fell in love with the game in second grade. I lived for every practice and every game. I lived for the countless hours in the gym or my driveway perfecting every shot, every pass and every move I could think of. Every night after dinner, I would go shoot and would not allow myself to go inside until I hit a hundred shots. I had a desire to play, to get better and to be the best basketball player I could possibly be.

I had many coaches between church leagues, rec leagues, personal coaches, basketball camps, middle school and high school. Most of the coaches I had the opportunity to play for had a passion for the game like I did. They inspired me to never stop working. They would tell me I had a natural ability. I took pride in knowing that I worked hard and I took pride in the compliments that I got from my coaches and other parents. I always looked forward to the drills and, believe it or not, I even looked forward to the running. These coaches had a desire to teach, and I had a desire to learn through every good and bad thing that happened during many seasons. Thank you to the coaches that coached and supported me through the years.

SEE ALSO: My Regrets From My Time As A College Softball Player

Along with the good coaches, are a few bad coaches. These are the coaches that focused on favorites instead of the good of the entire team. I had coaches that no matter how hard I worked, it would never be good enough for them. I had coaches that would take insults too far on the court and in the classroom.

I had coaches that killed my passion and love for the game of basketball.

When a passion dies, it is quite possibly the most heartbreaking thing ever. A desire you once had to play every second of the day is gone; it turns into dreading every practice and game. It turns into leaving every game with earphones in so other parents don't talk to you about it. It meant dreading school the next day due to everyone talking about the previous game. My passion was destroyed when a coach looked at me in the eyes and said, "You could go to any other school and start varsity, but you just can't play for me."

SEE ALSO: Should College Athletes Be Limited To One Sport?

Looking back now at the amount of tears shed after practices and games, I just want to say to this coach: Making me feel bad about myself doesn't make me want to play and work hard for you, whether in the classroom or on the court. Telling me that, "Hard work always pays off" and not keeping that word doesn't make me want to work hard either. I spent every minute of the day focusing on making sure you didn't see the pain that I felt, and all of my energy was put towards that fake smile when I said I was OK with how you treated me. There are not words for the feeling I got when parents of teammates asked why I didn't play more or why I got pulled after one mistake; I simply didn't have an answer. The way you made me feel about myself and my ability to play ball made me hate myself; not only did you make me doubt my ability to play, you turned my teammates against me to where they didn't trust my abilities. I would not wish the pain you caused me on my greatest enemy. I pray that one day, eventually, when all of your players quit coming back that you realize that it isn't all about winning records. It’s about the players. You can have winning records without a good coach if you have a good team, but you won’t have a team if you can't treat players with the respect they deserve.

SEE ALSO: To The Little Girl Picking Up A Basketball For The First Time

Cover Image Credit: Equality Charter School

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Five Tips to Get on Top of Your 2019: Tech Editions

Yeah, there's an app for that.


Technology is the course of the future, why not use it to get on top of your new year? Make 2019 the year you stop sleeping on these great productivity apps and get grinding! Best part, all the apps I've included here are free.

Google Calendar.

Look at that beauty.

I LOVE Google Calendar! Not only is it a great tool to map out your week, it comes with cool features. You can color code tasks and events, get text reminders and so much more. You can even sync your calendar with other people's (this is very helpful for roommates or study buddies).

Google Doc File Folders


Sick of that long list of documents in your Google Docs? You can make file folders to organize all of your docs!

Momentum Chrome Extension

This is by far my favorite productivity app. It's a Chrome extension that acts as a home page whenever you open a new window or tab. It comes complete with the weather, a motivational quote and a to-do list! The best feature is their "main focus for the day". It keeps you grounded for sure- especially when it pops up with every tab and forces you to think about all you need to accomplish.


This is a to-do list on steroids- definitely worth checking out!


A to-do list app for your phone! I love this just to organize what my top priorities are.

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