Sometimes Appreciation Comes From the Most Unexpected Places

As you all know, I am on a journey to become a successful professional writer. The experiences I have had are beyond amazing. The feedback received from clients and the opportunities I have been afforded in this short period far overshadow my appreciation over a 21-year career as an educator. Yes, the intrinsic rewards I received as a teacher will follow me throughout my days. I KNOW I made a difference in the lives of countless students, and that ripple effect will be felt for generations. But how many times over that 21 years did any administrator or district personnel tell me I was doing a good job? I could count them on one hand.

A few weeks ago, I received a writing opportunity to compose and send letters to various districts’ personnel regarding something I can’t really discuss due to a DNA. The client is a doctor. He and I have developed a fantastic working relationship. Throughout our correspondence, I discussed being a teacher.

Last week he shocked me by telling me his plan to nominate me for The First Book Honor Roll Favorite Teacher award.

Here is a man who, through our limited interaction, recognized the impact I have on my students and my dedication to my craft. He took time from his time-consuming, vital work, ensuring he had the information to compose a written account of my teaching career and its impact.

To say I was honored and touched would be an understatement. Of course, I don’t know that I will win the award, which doesn’t matter one bit. What matters is that a veritable stranger recognized my value to education, and he took the time to make that known to the world.

This took place during National Teacher Appreciation Week. I have never felt more appreciated—what an unexpected source of recognition. But, again, I cannot stress enough the time it took for him to do what he did. And I KNOW it took away from the work he is focused on that can completely change the world we live in for the better.

I suppose that my purpose for sharing this is two-fold. 1) I want to thank the doctor for his kindness. He made me feel like my devotion to my students and school meant something. Something that no one from my school or district would have dreamed of doing. 2) If you have the opportunity to tell a teacher that they have made an impact, please take it. We work in conditions that would make most run away in fear. We are unappreciated and disrespected regularly, mostly from our superiors, not our students. We can never give enough of ourselves to satisfy anyone. It is a thankless job.

I try to tell the teachers who impacted my life at least once a year how special they are. So they are reminded at least occasionally of the difference they made in the life of one of their students. Most of your teachers have social media. Check it out and see if you can reach them. Even if you think they won’t remember you, they probably do. We have a gift for things like that. Drop them a line; it’ll only take a few minutes. But the impact you will have on them will be huge.

Thank you to Dr. Rajagopal for your nomination and affirmation. You are an amazing man, and the world is better because you’re in it.

Here’s a shout out to my favorite teachers:

Mrs. Judy Heaps

Judy, you instilled proper grammar and writing in my life. You were tough as nails on me, and without you, my writing career would not exist. You are the primary reason I became a teacher. I love you!

Mrs. Carol Radford

Mrs. Radford, the love you have for poetry and literature exudes from your pores. In your AP English IV class, when reading Lord of the Flies, your passion ignited a flame within me, and I knew I had to be able to one day excite others in the way you did me. I did. I am so grateful that I was not only your student but that I had the opportunity to be your student teacher. You taught me how to teach. You will forever be a hero to me.

Mr. Dale Powers

Mr. Powers, I get really emotional when I talk about the impact you had on my life, so I will keep this short. As my band director, you taught me discipline and to take pride in everything I did. When I asked you once why you didn’t tell me I did a good job more often, you said to me that if you did it too much, then when you said it, it wouldn’t mean anything. You couldn’t have been more right. I took that same philosophy and implemented it into my teaching style. Just like me with you, my kids always knew I love and cared about them, but when I specifically told them they were amazing, it hit them in the heart, and it meant something. I am who I am today because of you. THANK YOU!

Tell a teacher thank you. They deserve it. You’ll be glad you did.

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