Do you remember your favourite teachers? I bet one or two come to mind right away. Maybe a whole bunch do. I know I remember my favourite teachers.
In elementary school there was the teacher who helped me love reading and writing even though I had disliked both for years and struggled with spelling. There was the music teacher who directed a school musical each year; I literally went to school sick once and threw up in the school bathroom just so I wouldn't miss a rehearsal. In grade 6, it was the teacher who finally got it through my head that "a lot" is two words, not one! In junior high it was the band teacher whose enthusiasm made me love playing the trumpet and whose caring led to many a deep conversation on the playground. There was the teacher in grade 8 and 9 who treated us to advanced science experiments and whose teaching helped spark my love of biology and chemistry.
During my time in high school I was fortunate enough to have a number of teachers I still remember for their innovation, kindness and deep passion for the subjects they taught. There was the Social Studies teacher who made current events come alive and did an amazing impression of Roberto Benigni winning an Oscar by jumping up on the desks in our classroom and walking around shaking students' hands. There was the Chemistry teacher who volunteered his time after school so I and three others could work on projects for the Science Olympics in the neighbouring city (we came in second place). There was the English teacher who knew some people just don't love group projects and always gave the option of doing an individual project or presentation instead (hello, Shakespearean soliloquy memorization). And there was the math teacher/guidance counselor who could not only help me understand how to use my scientific calculator for parabolas, but who always had time to talk.
In university there was the professor of Sociology who had our class become a mock community for the semester and had us dress up as our roles every few weeks for presentations and debates in class so we could better understand the people we were representing. I remember the professor who hired me as his TA and not only had me mark papers and exams but who actually let me teach the odd class, which was a phenomenal experience. And then there were the two professors who had my back during one of the most difficult years of my life. One went went to bat for me with the administration of my school and left me with the gift of, not only his support, but a picture and a prophecy of what my life would one day look like. The other probably literally saved my life.
Teachers are so important. These dedicated individuals go to school for years and then never stop learning so that they can impart knowledge to their students in a constantly changing landscape of technology, psychology, teaching philosophy and school/class environments. I remember my teachers. I remember when I learned important facts. I remember when I was encouraged. I remember those who went the extra mile. I remember the classes that changed my mind, that sparked my passions, that helped me discover myself. Teachers matter.
So, to all of you referenced above, and to all of you I hold in my heart, whose lives impacted mine- You are appreciated and deeply loved.