Sometimes when people ask me what career path I would like to pursue in the future, the thought of being a teacher crosses my mind. The notion of educating the minds of the future, the potential to have so much influence, the guaranteed summer breaks -- it almost seems like it would be a crime to turn down a job so ideal.
Then I think about the countless hours behind preparing for classes, writing and grading tests, planning homework assignments, collaborating with other teachers and -- worst of all -- speaking in front of a class, and I realize how much respect I have for teachers.
Honestly, how does one put up with hundreds of hormone-filled teenagers for eight hours straight, five days a week, 180 days a year? You think you need summer vacation? They know they need it.
Even though I certainly don't have the enthusiasm or stamina necessary for being a teacher, I do believe it's important to recognize those wonderful people who dedicate so much of their lives to improving the next generation(s).
Far more than just being the people who stand in front of the chalkboard (or whiteboard or SmartBoard), my teachers have been the role models that I strive to emulate; they are the cheerleaders that have provided me that extra encouragement necessary to step out of my comfort zone and are the reason behind my motivation to put my best foot forward every day in school. And although some of the academia they teach is ostensibly trivial (I do hope future job interviewers don't ask me about conic sections), both in and beyond the classroom, every single one of my teachers has shaped me to be the person I am today.
This post is for the preschool teachers that pulled me out of the shallow end of the swimming pool and led me to the diving board, who promised they would catch me even if I belly flopped and who fully delivered on their promise.
It's for my third grade homeroom teacher, who didn't laugh in my face when I told her that one day, I was going to be the smartest person in the world after I graduated from Harvard AND Princeton AND Yale AND Stanford.
It's for my fifth grade social studies teacher, who taught me where all the states are, and who only chuckled a little bit when I forgot where the Battle of Bunker Hill took place.
This post is for my seventh grade math teacher, who coaxed a passion for math out of me, and who had the patience and good humor to answer literally every single one of my questions.
It's for my Intro to Journalism teacher, who nurtured my journalistic seed and gave me confidence in my writing abilities, who had faith in me and saw more potential than even I have ever seen in myself. Without a doubt, taking your class was one of the best decisions that I have ever made in my entire (albeit short) life.
It's for my freshman biology teacher, who was not only a mentor, but a friend and a neighbor who opened the door for me when I most needed it. Thank you for single-handedly restoring my faith in humanity.
It's for my sophomore AP World teacher, who has the most wicked sense of humor that has ever been known to mankind, and has taught me the history of the world in the most hilarious way possible that I would gladly repeat my sophomore year just to take her class again. (Also, please teach me your ways of freehanding a perfect world map.)
But most of all, this blog post is for every person who has been, currently is or will ever be a mentor of brilliant minds of all ages. It's impossible to put into words the profound impact that teachers have on their students, but I'm sure every person has experienced it. Teachers are the epitome of leading by example, the mother geese and father ganders who teach the little goslings how to fly before they leave the nest to take on the world.
So as the school year draws to a close (or perhaps has already ended for you lucky non-East-coast-ers), take the time to thank all the wonderful educators that you've laughed and learned with for the past 180 school days. Teacher Appreciation Month might only last through the month of May, but I believe that every single day is one in which we should celebrate the lovely people that have dedicated their lives to bettering the future. Thank you for everything you do.