Thank You for Teaching
I am of the belief that those teachers who give without reservation are rare in the world. They make sacrifices that a student can only truly repay through life accomplishments. These teachers give with their hearts, opening fountains of knowledge. For some gifted students these fountains grow to be rivers, and later oceans. I have swum in such oceans. To say that I am indebted to the teachers who enabled me to do that is an injustice I can barely apologize for. All I am or will be has had their hand upon it. Without their dedication I fear to imagine the man I might otherwise have become.
There are three teachers in particular I wish to thank. Though these words are few and inadequate, they are a true and sincere thank you for the knowledge and self-understanding I have been empowered with. I would not be who I am today without the gifts each of these teachers gave to me.
The first of these three teachers is Craig Lancto, my English teacher at George Washington Junior High School. He opened my eyes to all that literature could be, critiquing the first and worst poem I ever wrote. His critique was both creative and humorous, highlighting the fine line between being funny and being a fool. The year was 1986, and gang violence prevented me from finishing that year or any other in the school. I never saw Mr. Lancto again, though the lessons learned have been often applied.
In the early 1990’s I briefly attended Germanna College, where I met my first English professor, Suzanne Crane. She recognized my potential as a writer, and gave me tools I would later use to weave story and experience together. She showed me where to look for the fallacies on which much of modern society is built. I learned to question Christopher Columbus, John Smith, and the Blue Ridge Parkway, ultimately discovering a truth much different than what primary school had given me. From these seeds a fledgling writer grew. I never said thank you, largely because I wasn’t fully aware of the wisdom I had received.
During that same year I met Nancy Palumbo, my Psychology professor. She gave me the strength to question myself, asking not just who I was, but what I could be. I was shown how to look beyond personal motives to understand the foundation on which the self resides. This let me adjust the screen in my mind, allowing observation and analysis of things that might otherwise have destroyed me. I learned what an INFP was, even carrying the description in my pocket for years, just exploring what it meant. Eventually I understood the lesson, that paper would only ever be paper, but men had the ability to be something more. I learned to say thank you last and so never managed to do it in person.
To these three, and to every other in the world like them, thank you for being a teacher. Thank you for recognizing potential where no one else wanted to look. May your example be an inspiration to teachers everywhere.
Without great teachers there would be no great accomplishments - Henry Buell
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