Dear Mrs. Baker*,
I doubt you will remember me over the thousands of students that you taught at your years of WUHS. Nonetheless, I felt compelled to write.
My senior year was memorable for many reasons. I had finally gathered my courage and tried out for the cheerleading team and made it. I had a date to Senior Prom and I had you for English.
Here it is, over 20 years since I graduated, and I still, immediately, give your name as the teacher that influenced me the most in my schooling. You pushed me to be a better writer, taught me to enjoy plays and American writers, and taught me more about life than any teacher I have ever had, before or since.
This past February, after a series of detours and two children, I started my graduate degree in education. My professor asked us to talk about the teacher that influenced our decision to become educators and I spoke about you. You are the reason I am struggling through graduate school as a single mother with two teenaged boys.
Because when I grow up, I want to be like you.
I want to spark curiosity in my students, give them a desire to question everything, the need to know more, read more, inquire more. I want them to learn from me what I learned from you: the world is a beautifully diverse and interesting place. Go out and experience it!
When I was going through my divorce a couple of years ago, I started a blog as a therapy to help me through what was becoming an increasingly bitter and hard time in my life. As I wrote my first few posts, I wondered if they would pass muster in your class. But whether they would have or not, I continued writing, knowing that the joy I found in using words to express myself had first been discovered under your tutelage.
You are the reason that I minored in English for my B.A. I wanted to have the opportunity to pass the knowledge I had gained from you to a new generation of students.
You were also the reason that I was well prepared for the rigors of college writing and the high expectations of my college instructors. In fact, I’ve never had an instructor as hard to please as you were.
I wanted to take this moment, as I work on a project preparing my first lesson plans, to thank you. Thank you for your guidance. Thank you for your wisdom. Thank you for the lessons you taught me all those years ago.
Thank you for being the most memorable teacher I ever had the joy of learning from.
This is the letter that I wrote to my high school English teacher today. I will be mailing it tomorrow. A huge thank you to S.F. for finding the address for me! I so appreciate it!
Here’s younger me and “oldish” me 🙂