If you can read this blog post, thank a teacher!

It’s Teacher Appreciation Week and this post I read inspired me to think about those teachers who made an impact on me.

First, I want to tell all of my readers that thanking a teacher is a big deal. When you tell us that we helped you or just that you appreciated our work, it’s amazing. Seriously. Amazing. Most of us became teachers because we want to make a difference or help others. We are suckers for that. It’s why we will put up with attitudes and getting sick every Fall. We deal with all manner of insults, lately from the press. We don’t mind not making a bunch of money, most of us are happy to just make a living if we are making a difference.

So, seriously, find a teacher and thank them. Take a minute and send them little card or something. You will freaking make them so happy. (And, this is NOT a blatant plea to be thanked. If you do want to thank me, cool. But, make sure you find another teacher to thank, too.)

This last year we had Rachel’s Challenge come to my school and it reminded me that sometimes the smallest effort can have a big impact. A smile and a quick “hi” can save a life some days. So, in that spirit, I wanted to thank some teachers.

Mrs. O’Leary, thank you for making me do my homework in my Junior year of high school. You didn’t punish me or scold me. You just looked at me and said, with a deep sadness, “Dearheart, why don’t you do your homework?” I can still hear those words in your soft, Irish voice. I’m sorry that I didn’t get to tell you how much it meant to me that you just cared about me. The other teachers belittled me. But, you were kind. I often try to be kind to my students because of that.

Mr. Dineen, thank you for being such a jerk to me that I never want to do that to any other student. When you called me (and every other kid in your class) a “dumb bunny” because we couldn’t solve your mother loving Algebra 2 or Trig problems I actually felt dumb. Thanks for showing me how much damage words can do to a student.

Mr. Knish, thank you for putting all your heart into reading Hamlet to us in my Senior year. When I used to read to my English classes, I would try to put emotion and acting into the reading. I even threw in a “voice” for some of the characters if I could do it without pulling the kids out of the story. You inspired me to try to convey my love of words to my students.

Mr. Ballingall, thank you for teaching me about public speaking. I did better in college because of your class and I speak in front of crowds all the time, today.

Mrs. Quinn, I’m sorry my French class was so awful to you. That’s all. I’m just sorry and I hope you have better students today.

Mr. Uribe, thank you for teaching me that it actually was possible for ALL of the students to be on task in the classroom. I didn’t believe it. But, you told me to wait until everyone got quiet and it worked. Thanks.

Mrs. Cabrera, thank you for listening to me when I was brand new and wondering if I chose the wrong profession. It helped to have an ear to bend.

Mr. Navas, thank you for sharing your lesson plans and talking with me about my classes and reassuring me that falling behind on the curriculum guide wasn’t the end of the world.

Mr. and Mrs. Beal, thank you for EVERYTHING. I probably never would have survived that first year without your support. Lesson plans, advice, and even sending me tech support in the form of former students. I will always be in your debt.

Mr. Valencia, thank you for making me feel like I was the best teacher in the world every time I talked to you.

Mr. Matamala, thank you for showing me how to respect students as individuals and worthy of our care and attention. Thanks for being a friend and a good boss.

Mr. Paulsen, thank you for giving me a running start on being an Activities Director and spending two weeks getting me pointed in the right direction. Being an Activities Director is the hardest job I have ever had, but it’s also the best. Thanks for leaving so I could have it.

Mr. Abernathy, thank you for helping me remember that I’m not the one with the hardest job in the school and also for helping me learn to be a better employee.

Mrs. Colangelo, thank you for inspiring me to push students to be better writers. I got the chance to watch you teach a couple times and it really made me want to help kids learn to dissect their writing and hone their abilities.

Ms. Buchanan, thank you for always smiling and helping me with choreography. My musicals always looked better because you were involved. Thanks for sharing your talents with the school in the pep rallies, too.

Mr. Farnsworth, thank you for helping me think about instructional minutes and making me aware of the impact my activities have on the classroom. I appreciate your dedication to the learning process for your students.

Mr. Shotts, thank you for helping with graduation and for all the chats we had about Drama or English. It was fun to be your colleague and also entertain the rest of the English Dept. with our routine.

Mr. Allmond, thank you for your unyielding pursuit of excellence. I have never ever heard you accept less than the best a student could do and it reminds me to have similar expectations of my own students.

Mrs. Young, thank you for being my first Union Rep in my first, um, discussions with the principal. Sometimes those guys are scary and it helps to have someone “on my side” so to speak. I appreciate you trying to help me save Man of La Mancha.

Mr. Stover, thank you for being my most used Union Rep. You are way too much fun to talk to and I love how dedicated you are to your clubs and the store. You represent true professionalism in business to our students and I really appreciate that.

Mr. Mazzulli, thank you for being the best Union Rep I ever had (sorry Mrs. Young and Mr. Stover, but, he plays better guitar than you!) and for always being ready to share a story and remind me why we teach.

Mr. Maiorca, thank you for teaching me the importance of ASB public relations and the importance of following our ASB Constitution. Seriously. You challenged me to learn my job much better.

Janet Roberts, thank you for being so kind, cheerful and positive and for teaching me about making fantastic posters and advertising for our school. We aren’t on your level, yet, but we are getting better.

Mary Jane Smith, thank you for being the first smiling face I remember at CADA when I felt out of my element and so lost. Your friendly and warm personality made me feel right at home and as if I belonged there. Now I know I do, but you showed me first.

Ron Ippolito, thank you for inspiring me to use technology in my everyday ASB activities and for making me laugh so hard my face hurt when playing Silent Football.

Stu Shaffer, thank you for having such cool activities for kids to do at lunchtime and inspiring me to have better games for our Class Competition.

Coach Olay, thank you for inspiring me to shut my dang mouth and smile more. Honestly, that’s an amazing thing for me to shut up and I appreciate you showing me the power of not talking so much.

Ms. Schweiger, thank you for always making me feel like I’m amazing and fantastic when you talk to me. When you make people feel like that, you are a leader. You make me want to be the kind of teacher and Activities Director that you think I am!

Mr. Young, thank you for always making me laugh. You are the kind of teacher that makes kids want to show up to class to see what you will do today. That’s very inspiring to me.

Ms. Ervin, thank you for always telling me how much you liked our rally or whatever activity you saw. You will never know how much it helps and how much it means to hear it from you.

Ms. Connors, thank you also for complimenting our activities. It seems like your words always come right when I need to hear something positive. Thanks for being involved and helping our program.

To my regular chaperones like Mr. Greiner, Ms. Gamson, Ms. Patterson, Ms. Martinez, Mrs. Alcala, Ms. Macias, Ms. Phillips, Mrs. Johnson, and the other Mrs. Johnson, and the others that my poor, old, stressed mind is misremembering right now, thank you for helping me to put on great activities for my students. It wouldn’t be possible without you.

I will probably remember several other people that deserve thanks and I’m sorry for missing you.

To my absolute favorite teacher, the one who everyday is the President of my Fan Club (and sometimes the only member), the one who always reminds me that the students are the reason we do this, the one who opens my eyes to see it from their point of view, the one who pushes me to do better and be better, the one who always listens when no one else should be subjected to my whining self pity, the one who dares me to dream and to reminds me to inspire, the one who taught me the most important lesson, Ms. Marchis, I absolutely thank you for sharing your life with me.

If you have a moment, thank a teacher. Even if it’s not Teacher Appreciation week. You will never know how much it means to be told, “You helped me.”

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