I remember it clearly, her smile so wide and her eyes with that glitter that tells you just how happy someone is for you. This was the smile of my 8th grade middle school English teacher when she told me I had scored high on the proficiency exam and that she had recommended me for freshman honors English. I knew she believed in me and in my ability to succeed in school but I did not understand what that meant.
What I did not realize? That one class would set me up into a college prep honors track that would make me eligible to apply for college. I did not know yet that there were certain classes I needed take in order to be able to apply to four year colleges. I would not have been the first or the last student to want to go to college and not fully understand what I would need to do to prepare.
The memory of that teacher’s glittery smile and joy continuously reminds me of the important role we all have as educators, whether you are a 2nd grade teacher, a high school teacher, or a counselor. Success has different paths, we should not expect everyone to follow the same trail, but it is those around us that can make a difference and have an impact on the route we choose to take. That teacher was one of many educators that encouraged me, believed in me and inspired me. As I have gone on through higher education I’ve observed and experienced how much one person can make a difference in the life of others.
I only hope that in my journey to give back as others have given to me, that I too make a positive difference in someone’s life and a presence in someone’s story.