Dear Superhero Teachers

Last year, I partook in an internship with a kindergarten teacher and, of all the things I learned through my time in the classroom, one thing my mentor casually said during our lunch break stuck with me the most.  She said, “You have to be a certain type of person to be a teacher. You really have to love helping others, you have to love what you do or it just won’t work.” Surely, we all understand how this can be true. We’ve all had a subpar teacher who seemingly hates children and has basically set us up for failure. But that is not what this article is about.  Right now, I want to highlight the type of teachers who changed my life and instilled a new appreciation for education and being an educator in me.

So here goes my attempt at articulating a satisfactory “thank you” for all they’ve done.

Dear Superhero Teachers,

Whether I’ve had the pleasure of being taught by you or not, I want to thank you from the bottom of heart for not only being phenomenal at what you do but for being so much more than just a teacher. While we all appreciate you leading us toward high Regents scores, what is truly remarkable about you is your ability to turn into life coaches, motivational speakers and therapists.  

So, thank you for always leaving your door open and listening to our rants about boys, family, homework and mean girls.  For keeping our secrets and offering advice, I’ll even say thanks for the “I know this isn’t what you want to hear…” advice.

Thank you for being our voice of reason, for seeing our potential when we barely do.  Thank you for recognizing how hard we work and appreciating our effort when everyone else fails to.  Thank you for actually preparing us for college, academically and emotionally. Because of you, we went into college feeling capable and confident, and rightfully so because we’re out here killing the game.  

When we were plagued by senioritis, we definitely did not appreciate your constant pushing, but today we are grateful that you never allowed us to slack off.  You not only encouraged us to do better but to do more. To step out of our comfort zones, try new things, and to be good at those things as well.

Thank you for constantly reminding us that everything is going to be okay.  That whether we realize it or not, we still have time. Thank you for finding the happy medium between making sure we realize that we need to start getting our lives together and reminding us to relax and enjoy the little things.

Thank you for coming into the classroom every day with a positive attitude.  For being honest when life has you down, but not allowing it to affect the atmosphere of the class.  Not just anyone can push their personal struggles aside and continually be a shining light for others.  I can’t think of many other professions that require such loving, hardworking and optimistic employees.

Thank you for creating a class that we can look forward to every day -- a class that breaks up our monotonous, dreadful schedules, no less.  You make even the most boring topics fun, while others make classes that are meant to be fun absolutely awful.

Finally, I feel like I can’t wrap this up without thanking you for never giving up on the students who couldn't care less about you or their education.  You should know that everyone notices how emotionally invested you are in your students. Your generosity, your sacrifices and your ability to overcome obstacles so gracefully truly serves as an inspiration to all.

I hope what you’ve taken from this is that we’ve learned more from you about life than we have about math and literature -- and that’s saying a lot because you definitely taught us more than we needed to know about math and literature.

All in all, I hope you never feel underappreciated or as though it was all for nothing.  Because although it may not always be brought to your attention, you change lives every day.  The smallest gestures and the most casual conversations often inspire and encourage those around you, and that’s when you’re not even trying.

While your work as my teacher is complete, you have become a lifelong mentor and friend, and I feel exceptionally lucky to say so.