For 180 days out of the year we were together in a high school classroom full of 30 to 50 other kids. Each day I walked into your class with a smile on my face, wondering what today had in store for me. Each day you stood in front of the class and shared your knowledge with us. You simply thought you were doing your job as a teacher, but what you didn’t know is you were saving my life.
You might be wondering how, by simply doing your job, you could save someone. You gave me the chance to find my purpose and see beyond the darkness. The teachers who knew what I was going through stuck by my side through it all. And even those that didn’t showed a level of care and compassion that even now I find remarkable.
There were days when I felt as though the world was crumbling beneath my feet, and without even knowing, you were the ones who pulled me out. In those days your class would bring a smile to my dull face, by engaging my mind in an interesting lesson that distracted me from my own thoughts, or noticing that the day wasn’t the best for me and offering a hug or an ear.
Some might argue that this is all part of your job, but to me each of you went above and beyond. Nowhere in a teacher’s contract does it say you must offer your whole heart to every student and devote your own time to their personal needs. You listened to me during the few hours of free time in your day, ignoring the piles of work sitting on your desk. One teacher hugged me in tears on the last day of school, saying to call if I ever needed anything. One teacher asked me how I was “really” doing everyday. You understood me.
My teachers helped give me purpose. I would not be here if it weren’t for your support. You made me feel like I was worth something. You saw beyond the cloud of grief and my struggles, even when I didn’t believe you. You viewed me as a person, not just as another name on your roster.
For that I want to say thank you.