To My Teachers, Thank You

05/05/2015 01:33 pm ET | Updated May 04, 2016
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I originally wasn't going to post anything for National Teacher Appreciation Week. I'm far too stressed out with finals to be appreciative of the people who give them. Then I was scrolling through Facebook (when I should have been studying) and I saw one of my high school teachers had commented on some other status about his job.

Mr. Sovacool, my high school U.S. history teacher explained that he "teach[es] historical thinking skills and analysis using U.S. history."

I had never thought of a teacher's job that way until I read his comment. I knew he taught U.S. history. I was there for that. I remember having discussions in his class about politics and presidents.

I don't remember learning how to think and analyze things historically. I just remember loving the class, because it was more than memorization and repetition. It had never occurred to me that he was just using U.S. history to teach me how to learn and how to think critically.

But just because I had no idea he was doing it, doesn't mean it didn't work.

The most important lessons I took from high school, and even before that, weren't from teachers who were focused on preparing me for college or the unfairness of "the real world." It wasn't the teachers who piled on the homework and filled my head with horror stories of lecture halls and exams who made me excited to learn. The most important lessons I learned in school were from the teachers who treated me with respect, like I was more than just a child below them but actually an equal who just needed some guidance.

It may sound cheesy, but I am who I am today because of awesome (and some not-so-awesome) teachers. My second-grade teacher taught me how to be excited about learning. My seventh-grade teacher taught me how to be responsible and grown-up while still acting like a kid. My high school journalism teacher taught me more than I could ever write in a blog post.

I learned a lot in high school. Some of it stuck, like the word lugubrious. Some of it didn't, even though it was taught in classes I loved, by teachers I admired. But the important things -- the things I didn't realize I was learning -- are the lessons I am the most grateful for. I may not remember who the 23rd president of the United States was (Benjamin Harrison -- thanks, Google), but I remember arguing over which amendment in the Bill of Rights is most important and why. Sometimes I forget to use AP Style in my news writing, but I still look in the mirror and say "I'm kind of a big deal" to myself whenever I'm upset (and it still works.)

So thank you to all of my old teachers, for helping me grow and learn lessons you technically didn't have to teach me. Thank you for molding me into someone I can be proud of.