This Tuesday marked World Teacher's Day and although I didn't send any cards or flowers I did spend some time thinking about some of the educators who have made a profound impact on my life.
I did have a few teachers who I would rather forget, but I also had wonderful, passionate individuals who cared about what they were teaching and the people they were teaching it to. I see those kinds of teachers in our local school, the teachers whose whole faces light up when they talk about certain subjects and those who speak with passion about extra-curricular sports and activities where they spend their own time nourishing creative minds and encouraging strength and skill.
This summer I ran into one of my junior high school teachers. She hadn't changed much in 25 years and remembered me when I introduced myself. We spent a few moments reminiscing about a time I rarely think about and shared a bit about our lives today.
She had dozens of students a year over many years and I was surprised she remembered me at all.
I had some excellent teachers, teachers who inspired me to reach for my dreams and those who laid out the tools I would need to succeed if I was willing to work for them. I had English teachers in Grade 9 and 10 who gave long writing assignments and were thorough in their criticism. I was never happy with the amount of homework but it is because of their attention to detail I have the confidence to sit in front of a computer screen and string words together week after week.
My formative years were clouded by a job shortage and yet the system I went through encouraged my classmates to become doctors, nurses, teachers, engineers, filmmakers and more. We remember certain teachers differently, depending on what our needs were at the time, but it seems everyone had teachers they related to and called their favourites both in school and in the community.
I'm grateful they had different strengths and weaknesses. We were very different young people, with different learning styles and yet it seemed there was always someone in the mix who could reach out and at least plant a seed.
Teachers don't know what will grow and develop in the minds of the children who sit in front of them day after day. They offer tools and skills and even hope. I think maybe that's why when we introduce ourselves to former teachers, they usually smile and want to know what we're up to now, they were part of the planting and are pleased to see what grew.