There are a variety of opinions about teachers. They are underpaid. They’re overpaid and lazy. They only work part of the year. They are there just for the paycheck. And then there’s the teachers who make a difference in our lives. My husband is a teacher. He shared with me today an email that he received from a former student. And if this isn’t proof that teachers matter, I don’t know what is.
I’m still sorta blinking back tears.
(Unedited with the exception that names are removed)
My name is Jackson*. You probably do not remember me, but I remember you. You taught my 8th grade math class, and were also my advisory teacher.
I remember you pulling me into the hall and yelling at me because I scored in the 99th percentile on a math standardized test, but still had a D in your class because I was lazy and did not apply myself. I remembered you tried to recruit me for the math team and that I promised to come, but then backed out after only one practice because I didn’t care to do the work.
I was often compared to another student by the name of Gerry*. In elementary school I had always been the #2 student behind him. But by Jr. High there were many bright and hardworking kids, and I was no longer up there behind Gerry. Yet I still was compared to him on a regular basis. I assume it was because we were both Asian. I was the the Asian who wasn’t as good a student as Gerry.
At our graduation/commencement ceremony I was sitting next to you. I have always remembered what you said to me. You told me that, “You know, next year is a fresh start. You and Gerry will both be on the same level.”
You recognized that I was always compared to Gerry, and you tried to encourage me.
I wish I could say things turned around right then. They did not. I mostly wasted my high school years.
However, God in the person of Jesus Christ, eventually did turn my life around.
I went to college shortly after, though I never did pursue mathematics, sorry 🙂
Anyway, some 13 years after I last saw you, tonight I found myself reminiscing with my wife, and I told her the story of the teacher who encouraged me on commencement day. So I decided to look you up, and email you, so that I could thank you.
Your words might not have had the desired effect on my high school career, but they stuck. I have never forgotten them.
Thanks for investing time that resulted in frustration for you. Thanks for recognizing my situation. Thanks for trying to encourage me.
Right now, I am in ANE and ancient languages. I’m currently pursuing my PhD. I read four dead languages fluently. I’m working on three more. I’ve taught in colleges in the US, Canada, and Uganda. I wouldn’t be doing this type of work, which I love, without teachers like you.
Thanks, Mr. Teacher.
Have you ever looked up a teacher and shared proof that teachers matter? Because this is how you make someone’s year.