Class is in session. Please take your seats, put away your phones, and pay close attention.
Today is National Teacher Day, a day in which, according to the National Education Association, we honor “teachers and [recognize] the lasting contributions they make to our lives.”
If you’re like me, most teachers have made positive contributions to your life, but there are only a few that have made lasting contributions that you treasure to this day.
To all the teachers who have equipped us with the basic life skills we need to function in this world, a heartfelt expression of gratitude and respect.
Now, for those who had an especially deep impression on my life, I’d like to shine the spotlight on you for a minute.
You taught me mathematics in the eighth grade, and I appreciate that. I don’t recall if you taught me about quadratic equations or how to factor and reduce to simplest form, but what I do remember is that you taught me something that’s stayed with me to this day.
It’s your catchphrase—the saying you used often to restore order and to encourage studying in our class—that’s proven to be a great teaching tool for me.
“Get on your work!” Those four simple words, delivered in that kind Southern accent of yours, spoke volumes to my impressionable mind and sank deep into my heart.
“Get on your work!” has proven to be the basis upon which I’ve built my work ethic, taught my own children, and encouraged others to accomplish tasks. Those four simple words have given me the motivation I need when I don’t feel like working or when I don’t feel like taking care of my responsibilities. Finding the strength and desire to do what I’m supposed to do really does boil down to embracing a “Get on your work!” attitude. Thank you for that lasting impression.
Thank you for teaching me in the sixth grade that it’s okay to speak my mind when I feel like I’m not being treated in a fair manner. Your listening ear and respectful attitude showed me that just because someone is a child doesn’t mean they don’t have something important to say. That attitude rubbed off on to me and has influenced the way I’ve interacted with children throughout my life.
I owe my livelihood to what you contributed to my life. You taught me the beauty and impact that the written word can have on others—and that they can have on me. You expressed belief and admiration in my writing ability when I didn’t see it myself. I was fortunate enough to have your kind influence in my life in seventh and eleventh grade English classes. Thank you for believing in me when I was too immature to believe in myself.
As long as I can remember, you believed in my writing ability. Whether it was my early attempts at writing and drawing comic books or my pretentious efforts to write the next great American novel, you were my biggest and most encouraging fan.
Every time you read something I’d written, you praised me and told me you thought I should be a writer. No matter how silly or unfinished the work, you expressed belief in what I was doing and had nothing but kind and encouraging words for me. That never changed, no matter how old I was or how polished my writing skills became. Mrs. French taught me about the nuts and bolts of writing, but you taught me about the heart and soul of writing. Thank you. Te amo, Papi!
What about you? I hope you’ll take a minute today to reflect on the teachers who influenced your life. I hope you’ll remember with gratitude what it was they taught you that has endured the test of time by becoming a part of who you are and what you do today.
If you’re so inclined, leave a comment about which teacher(s) influenced your life for good.