Teacher Thank You

Posted by on Jun 20, 2014 in Uncategorized | 32 comments

In most areas of the country, school is out for the summer, which makes it the collective time of year for teachers to draw in a slow breath and then actually sit for a few minutes without wondering if they should be grading something. Having taught high school for a handful of years, I know the feeling of summer. It’s a good one!

But it’s more than just the relief of knowing you’ve finished another school year. It’s also the curiosity of what will happen in coming years to the students you’ve genuinely grown to love (or tolerate). It’s wondering if you could have done anything more. If you mattered.

(That pic is of kindergarten age me! Cute, huh?)

1974_Jen_Christmas

When I was in school, 1st grade was the year we learned to read. The problem was that, thanks to a diligent older brother, I had started kindergarten already able to read. And as you would expect, my kindergarten teacher wasn’t excited about this. (Sarcastic font there, right?) She asked me not to read until 1st grade because I might develop bad habits.

As any good 5-year-old would do, I rebelled, and became a secret reader. I pretended to look at the pictures in the book, but really, I was reading the words. Rebel with a cause, as I saw it then.

I know this story sounds odd, really the opposite of what we’d expect from a teacher. And overall, my kindergarten teacher was a good teacher, if perhaps a bit old school.

Then in 1st grade came Mrs. Flores. She not only celebrated that I could read, but did everything she could to push my skills ahead. This included inviting 6th grade students down to read independently with me, pulling books from older classrooms to give me, and always making me feel like reading early was a wonderful thing.

I last saw Mrs. Flores when I left elementary school, until twenty years later when I bumped into her again, still teaching, but this time as a retiree volunteer at a Title One school. She remembered me. And in twenty years, my love for her had only grown.

From Mrs. Flores, I learned to love words, and to be proud of myself as a reader. I learned to love school.

In the upcoming MARK OF THE THIEF series (2/24/15), each book will be dedicated to a different teacher who made a difference for me. Book 1 is for Mrs. Flores.

Sometime before the book’s release, I hope to find her, so that I can tell her this in person and give her a copy of the book. I hope I can. Because she doesn’t know I’ve become an author, and I want her to know that for me, she mattered.

If you had a teacher that ever mattered to you, will you tell them too? Or leave a comment below about your greatest teacher below.

 

32 Comments

  1. I love that you’re dedicating your book to your teacher! What a tribute!! You ask an important question and I’m finding it hard to answer…I guess the first teacher that really made an impact on me would be Sr. Jean. She was my sixth grade science teacher. I struggled in science and she called me out and told me I could do so much better. She raised expectations for me and I did everything I could to meet them! In terms of writing, it wasn’t until college & grad school where I had teachers that saw my potential. I’ll never forget when a graduate professor said to me, “I can’t wait to read your book.” Those words follow me as I work to make that dream come true. Thanks for the great question! Congratulations on the new series! I can’t wait to read it!

    • Love it! What a great teacher you had! Thanks for sharing, Michelle!

  2. Very touching Jennifer, truly a wonderful story. I have to say the teacher that inspired me the most would be Mrs. Shaw, my 5th grade teacher. She was an AMAZING teacher and always would tell us to “stay in the struggle.” She always pushed me a little bit out of my comfort zone, but it was all well in the end. She also was the one who introduced me to The False Prince. She was (and still is) my inspiration. Basically all of the 5th grade teachers were amazing and inspiring people, Mr. Adams, Mrs. Crowther, Mrs. Ritchie, and last (but, definitely not least) Mrs. Shaw.

    PS–SOOOOOOO excited to read the new series!!!!!

  3. How your kindergarten teacher didn’t want you to read reminds me of Scout and her teacher from To Kill a Mockingbird. Mrs. Flores sounds like an amazing teacher. I hope you find her again. Yesterday was the last day of school for me, and in my last class period, someone told the teacher, “Thanks for being such a great and awesome teacher this year.” Everyone applauded in agreement. She almost cried. But really, she was amazing. She cared, wanted us to learn, and not just Spanish, but life lessons. Before Thanksgiving, instead of teaching about verbs, she talked about gratitude. And that’s what my classmates and I had because of her.

  4. I had an amazing high school English teacher – she was so passionate that she had this uncanny ability to make me appreciate every single one of the texts we studied, no matter how much I disliked it at the beginning, and the way she taught and treated our class was just really empathetic and inspiring. She didn’t know I was interested in writing outside of class, but without knowing it, actually helped me to define my writing voice (long story) in creative writing. Teachers definitely have such a big impact on their students, more than just the content they teach – thanks for sharing your story above!

    • You’re right – teachers have a huge impact, in more ways than they’ll ever be able to measure.

  5. Aww u r so cute in the picture and very touching story. You know I had a teacher named Mr.verlaan he was an awesome teacher and believed in me very much(I am a really quiet student and don’t participate a lot) Even when I knew the answer I didn’t raise my hand up. He always ignored those who raised up there hands and picked me. I had no idea how he knew i knew the answer. He taught me to speak more and participate. Thanks to him I am not nervous to do presentations anymore. I owe him a lot.

    • That is awesome about Mr. Verlaan – my son had a teacher do the same thing for him too!

  6. Your story reminds me of a book I once read by Roald Dahl called Matilda In it a young girl named Matilda learns how to read before even starting school and surprisingly you look a lot like her too.

    • I remember reading and watching Matilda in 4th grade. My teacher actually gave me the DVD as a birthday gift because I couldn’t obtain it elsewhere.

    • i know that, jennffer i like ur booke: the false prince

  7. Well, I’m a homeschooler. I would have to say it’s my mom. She really gives it all her best to teach me, and encourages me to continue my studies in order to achieve my goal of becoming a gastrologist. She used to be a teacher in a private school, so she has had first-hand experience in teaching in an actual classroom. Sure, it gets hard at times, but she always makes sure to find materials that are fun, and If there is something I don’t understand and she cannot explain in a way I would understand, that’s where the internet comes in! lol
    I love my teacher, I love my mom. ♥
    There’s also my Favorite Sunday School teacher, Ms. Martha. She was an amazing teacher, she made the stories so funny and easy to understand. I still see her at church, altho’ I don’t go to her class nor does she teach any longer. However , she always inspired me to do my best in all things, through a godly perspective.
    I think it’s amazing people like these named above my comment or Ms. Jennifer’s teacher, that keep the world spinning round.

    • I’m sure your mom is awesome (as well as your Sunday School teacher)! You’re lucky to have them (as you clearly know)!

  8. Is there any test questions for the book The False Prince, my son is reading this book for school this summer and he has to take the test the first week they get in school. This book is real good and we are on chapter 25.I just want to test him to see if he remembers what we have read so far.

    Thanks,
    Addie Lott

  9. I had a third grade teacher; she doesn’t seem like much, but back then (I cannot believe I’m admitting this) I hated reading, and she urged me to read. I obeyed (surprisingly) and started with A Series of Unfortunate Events and I LOVED IT. Ever since, I can’t go anywhere (ok, maybe not anywhere) without a book near me. Though maybe it’s not a too good habit… Most parents have to force their kids to read. My parents have to force me not to read. :/
    It’s so nice of you to dedicate your books! I’m sure your teachers would love to know their hard work is actually appreciated ( since many hate school (how? It’s not too bad with books and friends…)).

    • I’m so glad your 3rd grade teacher did that for you, Angelina. My 3rd grade teacher was like that too (Book 2 of MARK OF THE THIEF will be to her).

  10. Wow!!! That’s really sweet. I can’t wait until The Mark of the Thief comes out. I really love reading. I knew how to read since I was in preschool (because we had like a ton of books in our house, my parents pushed me to read.)
    Now I do homeschooling because my mom wants me to do more work and get a good degree.

    Well you really inspire me to write more and more. Right now I’m writing a book for fun (I don’t know the title yet). It’s about a girl with many problems in her life and she goes on a quest to find the solutions to her problems. There’s lots of danger,sacrificing, and encounters creatures.

    Your teachers would be really proud of you to hear that you’re an author now.
    Also how do you get so many good ideas for your books?

    • I love that you have parents who have been so supportive of your education, Farah! And excellent news that you’re writing a book too – I wish you lots of luck with that! For book ideas – they come to me in all sorts of ways: songs, the news, historical events, or dreams, or just from who knows where? Probably a lot of the same ways you get your ideas, I’d guess!

  11. My eighth-grade English teacher, Mrs. Aurre, was the first one to make me believe I had any talent as a writer. I’ve had the same thought as you–I’m hoping to find her to give her a copy of my novel before it comes out in December, so she can see that her influence gave a goofy thirteen-year-old enough confidence to grow up and fulfill a dream.

  12. Nice bangs over there Miss Jen haha. I remembered my sister having that bangs and its funny XD. I salute you Miss Jen because you will dedicate your next book to your teacher back then.I think she will be glad.

    • What are you talking about, Lemuel? I ROCKED those bangs – for years! 😉

      • I just remembered my sister had those bangs back then and I was laughing when I saw it. She looks like a Chinese bun, I’m such a bully haha :). However it is cute and suits you Miss Jen :).

  13. I don’t really remember when I learned how to read, I just know I knew at a young age. I love teachers like that! Unfortunately, it took me to 5th grade to have one like that!
    I used to be such a brat, but when I had him as a teacher, everything changed. I’ve always liked reading, but I always had trouble finding good books- His classroom had a reading section along with a small area with books. I got into reading even more- at some point he let me borrow a book to finish.

    I believe he’s the one who gave me an edge to write. Being in his class always gave me ideas, and I loved how he told us stories and read books to us once in a while. I wish I could thank him for everything, but I have no idea if he still works at that school :\

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