From first through third grade, I was in a multi-age class taught by Mrs. A. I loved Mrs. A. She read to us every day and encouraged my passion for making up stories. She was the first teacher to tell me I was a talented writer and could be a real author in the future. That praise planted a seed in my brain and launched my lifelong pursuit of a career in writing; My first book comes out next year. Mrs. A and I are Facebook friends and she frequently encourages and celebrates my writing successes. She will forever be the first of many teachers who inspired my love of learning.

This week, I met with the high school teacher I knew as “Rog” and a senior he’d paired me up with to do an independent study on creating a literary magazine. Rog taught me journalism for two years, creative writing, and global citizenship. By senior year, we spent many lunches together in which he read my journal and gave me suggestions on what to develop into poems or stories. He told me, if I worked really hard, I could make a career of this writing thing. And I have. I’ve freelanced, published more than twenty stories, essays, and poems, edited an anthology of mental health recovery stories, gotten an MFA in Fiction, taught/coached writers, and now have my first book coming out. When we met with the student, Rog gushed proudly that one of his “little butterflies” had flourished into a writer and writing coach. When corresponding to arrange this partnership, he wrote, “Few of us ever dedicate time, energy and love into the things that drive us. Really—that I might have had a tiny part in fanning that flame so many years ago brings me joy.”

Teachers impact us in more ways than they’ll ever realize. I bet you had a teacher along the way who inspired and encouraged your passions, who saw the potential in you, or gave you a safe space in which you felt seen and understood. I was lucky to have had many of those teachers along the way, but those early ones left an indelible mark on me.

Over the past two years, teachers have, once again, stepped up to the plate and gone above and beyond for their students in turbulent times. They learned to teach remotely and offer support to students coping with so many unknowns. As we prepare for another school year full of uncertainty, teachers are already working hard to do the best they can for their students and families.

Let’s remember to take the time to celebrate the teachers who work tirelessly to educate and mentor our students. They’ll have a lasting impact on kids’ lives for decades to come, and they may never know how important they were to us.

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