Do you have a teacher who helped shape who you are today? I’m lucky to have been blessed by two amazing teachers who took an interest in me while I was growing up and made a huge impact on my life. Yesterday was World Teachers’ Day, a day dedicated to the appreciation of all that teachers contribute. To commemorate this special day I’d like to specifically thank the two teachers who made such an impact on my life.
When I was ready to start the third grade I was so disappointed that I had been assigned to Ms. Gilbert’s classroom since all my friends were in another teacher’s classroom. In her infinite wisdom my mom told me it would be fine, and of course she was right. Ms. Gilbert ended up being the most amazing teacher ever.
I learned so many life skills from her in that third grade year. She was Jewish, which was a new concept for me, and taught us about the traditions of her faith. Thanks to her I grew up understanding that although our beliefs may be different, we are the same in that we believe. (I still remember the dreidel song we learned that year). I also memorized my first poem in her class and learned to love words and language. (Moses supposes his tenses are roses….I still remember the whole poem). Most importantly, Ms. Gilbert introduced me to Judy Blume and cemented my love for books on the spot. Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret was a bit advanced in subject matter but spot-on for reading level and I am forever grateful that Ms. Gilbert saw I was mature enough to read it.
All of these years later I am still in touch with Ms. Gilbert and love hearing about her life and family. Not only is she one of the world’s best teachers, she is an amazing woman with a huge heart.
The second teacher to change my life came years later in high school. Mr. Richardson was my band director, but I know I am not alone in saying that he taught me as much about life as he did about music. Almost any former student of his can repeat Mr. R-isms that shaped our education.
A few of these sayings stick out in my mind even today. First was “If everyone was doing what you’re doing, would it work?” This one was aimed at a young group of instrumentalists making up the marching band and was undoubtedly intended to keep us in line. If every one of us showed up late and unprepared to rehearsal, would it work? No, it wouldn’t. On the other side, if everyone took the time to memorize their music and learn their drills, would it work? Absolutely, and that question alone made me a better band member.
Another gem was “We’re only as strong as our weakest member.” This phrase spurred action in me two ways. First, I practiced more because I didn’t want to be the weakest link. Second, I helped members of my section who were struggling more, because I wanted us to be better as a group. Well played, Mr. Richardson; well played.
The last Mr. R-ism that really stuck with me was one that I thought he created just for me, but after all of these years I now know he used it with others as necessary. It was “Consider the source,” or “CTS.” I spent a good portion of my high school years worried about what others thought of me, and more importantly, what they said about me. Let’s be honest; even nice high schoolers are often mean, and sometimes things are said that hurt feelings in the worst way. Whenever I would complain to Mr. Richardson about these grievous words, he would say, “Consider the source, Riki,” and immediately I was reminded that the source usually wasn’t worth listening to. I still use his source-barometer to this day.
Of course Mr. Richardson also instilled in me an innate love of music that stays with me today. He introduced me to a wide variety of styles and fostered an appreciation for musical talent. To this day songs I heard or played in high school bring back fond memories.
To both Ms. Gilbert and Mr. Richardson I say thank you for being that teacher who went above and beyond the job description to be a role model and life inspiration. I’m forever grateful.
On this World Teachers’ Day be sure to celebrate the teachers who helped you along the way. More importantly, support the teachers shaping your children’s lives today.