I’ll never forget that day my freshman year of high school when Mrs. Gallagher made me cry. My band director since 5th grade, Mrs. Gallagher had a way of saying things straight and she didn’t mince words as she called me selfish in front of the whole class, challenging me to group up and quit my poor attitude. I remember being pretty frustrated with her. But today, I wouldn’t trade that day, or the other 1,440+ days I had class with her.
Come to think of it, I remember teachers from almost every grade edifying, encouraging, and rebuking me in ways that boosted my emotional IQ, creativity, attention to detail (could have used a few more days of chastisement on that one ;-), and overall capacity. Furthermore, many of those experiences included me crying! There was Mrs. B in 3rd grade, who encouraged my love of reading. I also remember Mrs. O in 5th grade, who tenderly helped me through a grammar book I couldn’t grasp. She was also one of the first teachers I remember to make me stay after class for speaking out of turn. In 6th grade, Mrs. R reminded me that I won’t have friends if I don’t wash under my armpits regularly. In 7th Grade, Mr. J challenged my beliefs on God creating the universe. He actually solidified them. In 8th Grade, Mrs. W ensured that my future was not in clothing or fashion as I failed to correctly sow a pair of pants I could wear. In 10th Grade, Mrs. K kept my focus on the arts rather than the sciences. In that same grade, Mr. G (the basketball coach) told me to stop playing basketball, saying, “you’re more built for football.” In 11th and 12th grade, Mr. B (the football coach) helped me review film after each game (he also brought donuts, which fed into Mr. G’s theory) to see my strengths, weaknesses, victories and failures.
Teachers, coaches, and mentors, we are forever indebted to you. You are much of the reason we are who we are. Never hesitate to edify, encourage, or rebuke us just because we respond with a poor attitude. The truth is, we need it; I pray our (students around the world) eyes are opened to see how valuable your words and actions are.