This past weekend, I went to my niece’s high school graduation. Because the school had such a small graduating class, the ceremony was very personal.

It was an emotional thing to see all the graduates so filled with hope and promise. So ready to take on the world. And to see how much they appreciated their teachers.

In the valedictorian speech (done by three students together), each and every teacher at the school was acknowledged. How beautiful to hear the impact, many times unintentional, that these teachers had on their students.

And afterwards, I thought about the teachers who have impacted my own life.

I remembered Mrs. Wilson, who, even though I was a high school sophomore, treated me like an adult. She signed my papers with her first name when she graded them. She complimented my poetry and told me she looked forward to reading my essays. She predicted I’d be a writer.

I thought about Mrs. Condon, and how she gave me a love of vocabulary by having us learn words that, as a high school senior, I thought I’d never use. Words like gregarious. And mollify. And leonine. Words I still remember. She had us study paintings, too, and it was in her class that I learned to appreciate art for the first time.

A teacher can do that…open up worlds you didn’t know existed.

And they can give confidence where there wasn’t any before.

A teacher can challenge. And inspire. And encourage.

A teacher can change a life.

Not every teacher is a teacher by profession, either.

A teacher is the mom who reads stories to her daughter at bed-time.

And the dad who helps his son hold a hammer.

A teacher is the grandma who shows her grandchildren how to bake.

And the grandpa who shares his love of nature.

A teacher is the man who stops in front of passing crowds on the street to give the homeless person something to eat.

A teacher is the woman at the park who picks up the litter on the ground where the kids are playing.

A teacher is the nurse who prays with you at the hospital.

And the person who offers to put your grocery cart away because your arms are filled with children.

And the neighbor who drops off a meal for your family after you have surgery.

A teacher is someone who reaches out in a way that inspires you to be a better person and to reach out too.

A teacher, whether in the classroom or not, is someone who believes that they can make a difference.

And through their actions, they do.

They really, really do.

29 Comments on A Teacher Is…

  1. Genny,This is so beautifully written. I had so many great teachers, and I still remember one telling the class that she wished everyone could write as I did….I never had confidence in my writing until then……love, love, loved this post!

  2. Thanks for your comment! This is so true I can remember a couple of teachers that made a difference in my life. I will never forget them.

  3. Yes they do – all those things. I come from a long line of teachers (grandparents – father – sister). Great post!Hope to see you soon – Kellan.

  4. This is a beautiful post. I had some truly wonderful teachers along the way, both in and out of school, and their impact on my life had a huge bearing on the woman I’ve grown to be.

  5. I agree! I can think of so many who have taught me. And it is a sobering thought that I am teaching my children by all I do — whether good or bad!

  6. I remember Mr. Sawaya, my 11th grade English teacher who let us read poetry out loud on the lawn and would always discuss Cheers episodes on Fridays. He turned down the lights and played classical music to help us focus before a big exam. He made us read the classics and was a tough grader. Pushing us to be our very best…Thanks for your post. It made me think about some of the great teachers I’ve had through the years, in and out of the classroom!

  7. Nice Post makes me think back to some of my favorite unconventional, out of the box teachers. I love that I teach young children and their parents at my day job. But the toughest and most rewarding teaching challenge I will ever face is my own children.thanks for the thoughts.

  8. How true – our lives are filled with teachers even though we’re well out of high school. Including those thoughtful bloggers who make us think. Thanks!

  9. Wonderful post! My husband is a teacher and I hear great things about him from people I who don’t know I am his wife. It makes me very proud. I also had two amazing teachers who made all the difference in my life. One gave me my love of reading, the other my love of art. I still think of them often.

  10. I love this post! Mrs. Pletka was my first grade teacher, then taught me in high school later. I still give her a big hug when I see her. Miss Black was way before her time, but sadly, I have lost contact with her. I had an English teacher in college who awakened my love of writing. She made comments on my papers, and encouraged me to keep writing.

  11. Such true words Genny.Thanks for reminding me of this right before I head out to run errands with my children. To teach first….

  12. Sometimes I read from various translations as a devotional read. One day many years ago I used The Living Bible as I was reading through Proverbs. I love the way Proverbs 15:2 was written, “A wise teacher makes learning a joy.” Wonderful post, Genny. And thanks for coming by!

  13. Wonderful tribute to teachers. I had several teachers that were wonderful and had such a wonderful influence on me. My hubby is a teacher and to me they don’t get enough respect or enough thank yous for all of the hard work that they do.

  14. This is really beautifully written Genny. Thank you for reminding me that I should always set a good example. It is easy to get swept up in our own craziness, and sometimes we forget that there is always someone watching.

  15. Genny,This is one of your best posts. I home schooled my two older daughters for 5 years, so I know what it is like to have that responsibility. Additionally, I know how important it is to see every person in your life as a potential teacher. It's when we think we know it all when we lose opportunities to learn.My seventh grade teacher helped me to love writing…as did a college professor that recognized my ability.

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