Teacher Appreciation Week means it’s time to say thank you.
There’s no way I can say thank you to all the teachers who’ve impacted my life, but I want to at least point out a few.
Mrs. Tagee from Valley View Elementary. It’s crazy to think back to the lost little kid I was when I moved to Columbia Heights, Minnesota. I don’t remember a lot from those days, but I do remember not reading and how desperately I wanted that to change. Mrs. Tagee helped that wish come true.
Anne Gillespie from Burkburnett High School. Mrs. Gillespie crushed my dreams when she told me I couldn’t be in yearbook. Thank God for that because instead she helped me fall in love with journalism, advising and all things UIL. She changed my life, and I can never say thank you enough for that.
Dr. Thomas Hoffman from Midwestern State University. Dr. Hoffman made me believe in me. He helped me believe in my words and my ability to excel academically. He encouraged me to continue with my education when I finished my BA, and he didn’t laugh at me when I freaked out at that first paper I had to write while pursuing my MA. I’m not sure if I’d still be writing today without Dr. Hoffman’s encouragement and support.
Sandra Scheller, Rider High School. I met Sandra during my first semester working toward my teaching certificate. She taught journalism at Rider, and she was willing to let me observe her class. From the moment she informed those kids I was her probation officer to the last few months while I’ve watched her prove she is one of the strongest women I know, Sandra has been a true inspiration. She leads her classes with laughter and gentle guidance, and her students know she truly appreciates them. She makes connections that last a lifetime, and I’m proud to call her a colleague and a friend.
Sheila Curlin, Birdville ISD, (but still a Raider). I’m not even sure how Sheila and I first became friends. I think it might have been fashion/shoe envy on my part. Sheila has always inspired me to be a better teacher. We spend hours talking about education and actually enjoying those discussions. One of my first critique partners, Sheila constructively criticized my fiction and called me out when I took shortcuts with it. Sheila helped mold me into the writer I am, the teacher I am, the person I am today. When we see each other now, it’s as if we are still right down the hall from each other. I miss her, but she’s just a phone call away. :)
Debbie Begley, Keller ISD, (but still a Raider). I suffer from a serious issue: I’m a shy extrovert. I desperately want to talk, but I’m terrified to do so. For years I wanted to be an education advocate, but that meant actually talking in front of my peers. It took a few years, but Debbie gave me my voice. I’m not sure she even knows that. With her constant encouragement I finally spoke up at a faculty meeting. Since then I’ve spoken at board meetings, marched in Austin, spoken at local rallies and Lord Help, if you ask me a question about education reform. Thank you, Debbie, for helping me claim that dream. I hope to do more with it, and every time I speak, I will say, Debbie Begley helped make this happen.
Scotty Coppage, Rider. How incredibly cool is it that one of my former students now teaches with me?! But that’s not why Scotty is on this list. Scotty is an incredible teacher who challenges me to be better and do more. He teaches from the heart and runs his classroom the same way. But even that isn’t why Scotty is on this list. Scotty’s on this list because when he came into my classroom all those years ago and asked me if I was still writing and I said, well, I’ve been kind of busy and not really, instead of letting that stand he asked if I wanted to workshop The Artist’s Way with him that summer. That summer I learned Scotty was more than an incredible teacher and writer. He was Rock Star. That summer changed my life. I was miserable when I wasn’t writing. Scotty helped give that back to me. He didn’t have to do that, but I’m incredibly thankful he did!
Nikki Looper, Burleson Centennial (but still a Raider). Nikki was the first teacher I ever mentored. I’m not sure why they had me mentor her that year. I think it was because I was across the hall from her. Since that time (a million years ago!), Nikki has challenged me to be a better teacher time and time again. I don’t see Nikki often, but I did at the last UIL Regional meet in Lubbock. Once again she spoke truth about education. Life changing truth. She helped me remember that comfortable isn’t a good thing when it comes to teaching. Those years we worked together changed me as an educator, and I’m incredibly thankful for that.
There are so many others I should mention. Jan Adams, my cooperating teacher who was here for two years and then moved back to Arkansas, helped me understand the power of revision and how simply doing the work and giving it a grade wasn’t enough. Mrs. Bo who made English fun. My eighth grade English teacher–I cannot remember her name and that is awful!–she taught us step by step how to do a real research paper and refused to let us write a word without a complete outline. I used those lessons from then through my MA, and I use those research lessons when I’m writing today. She also told us not to get rid of our favorite clothes when they went out of style because style was cyclical. She was so right. Mr. Brown who told me every day that I could do math, I was just afraid of it. He showed me the power of encouragement and believing you can. It took me several years to understand that lesson. Rhonda Arnold who made me see the importance of loving your school not just working there.
Looking back, I could go on and on and on with this post, the first I’ve written in months, but at some point it has to end. I know I’ve left names off this list that should be here, but I need to push publish. :)
The one thing I see again and again in these names is that these teachers changed my life. Teachers hold so much power in their hands. Yes, teaching is a job, but it is so much more than that. I need to remember that every time I walk into the classroom. <3