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A Difference

Staples display

Teachers make a difference.

There. I’ve said it. I can distinctly remember the day my MOA was up with the Kentucky Department of Education. Though I was crushed to leave a job that I truly loved, I tried to be positive and look forward to beginning my own consulting firm. Yet, in the deepest part of my heart, I mourned, not only for losing a job and colleagues that I loved but also for worrying about what I hadn’t done. Does that make sense?

I was having a final dinner with my friends and colleagues when a teacher/ friend approached me. As she gathered me in a big hug, she looked me straight in the eye and said the magic words:

“Sylvia, I just want you to know that, in my classroom – actually, in so many classrooms throughout the region, you have made a difference.”

I guess that’s just about as good as it gets. Hearing what she had said was a gift that I didn’t even realize I needed. It was also a reminder to me that I hadn’t said that phrase nearly enough to the wonderful teachers who had made a difference in my life. So, here goes:

To Mrs. Bibb, you made a difference to a very shy girl who was struggling to find her place in a room of students who were all a year older and a year more mature than I. You gave me confidence and love.

To Mrs. Tate, you made a difference to a growing young lady who needed to be pushed out of her comfort zone. You forced me to stretch and grow, to face new people and new situations. You gave me wings.

To Mrs. Taylor, you made a difference to a student who needed a focus. Through you, I refined my love of books and all things literary. You gave me an example.

To Dr. Hagaman and Mrs. Niva, you made a difference by giving me validation, new ways of looking at my classroom, confidence, and the gift of writing. For all your help, I am most eternally grateful. You gave me the very best role models.

These wonderful teachers are only the “tip of the iceberg.” I could spend all day reminiscing of those who came before me, of those who led me, guided me, and loved me. I only hope all my teachers know how very much I appreciate them.

My two granddaughters and I were in Staples just this week. As we were picking out the perfect folders, the best pens, and all the accoutrements they would need for the school year, we spied a display, a board on which they could thank a teacher. Both of them needed no prompting, no encouragement. Both of them picked up a marker and penned a note to a favorite teacher. They actually were torn between several choices – a music teacher who had touched both of their lives, an administrator who had always been available when needed, a special primary teacher whom they loved, and so many more. As they bent their heads while they scribbled their note, I noticed they had both independently picked the same teacher, a loving, intermediate-level teacher who never passed up an opportunity to speak to them, to hug them, to treat them, not as students, but as friends. So, let me add my own note to theirs:

To Mrs. Kirk, you have made a difference. We all thank you.

Thank you, Ms. Kie -- from a former first grader

So, I guess all I have to say is, whether it’s on the internet, snail mail, or Staples, write a note to a teacher who impacted you, who helped you, who loved you. I promise it will make a difference.

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