Before I was a blogger, I was a teacher. And before I was a teacher, I was a student. And when I was a student, I had the best teacher in the entire universe. Her name was (is) Mrs. Lipnick, and she teaches Spanish at my old high school. I first had her as a sophomore, and at that point I already knew that I loved the Spanish language, but her class solidified it for me: I was going to be a Spanish teacher. For the next three years, I sat in her classroom every day (I took every class that she taught) and enjoyed every minute of it. Every worksheet, every verb conjugation, every single thing. She helped me pass the AP Spanish test with flying colors, gaining me enough college credits to completely skip my freshman year at Iowa!
After graduating with my Masters Degree in Spanish Literature, I could have pinched myself at the thought. I was a Spanish teacher! I was going to be the next Mrs. Lipnick! And I loved it. I loved teaching, I loved my students, and I loved watching them learn. In particular, I taught an amazing group of retirees in a continuing education class at the community college, and watching them grow in their language abilities will always feel like one of my greatest accomplishments as a teacher.
Last weekend, my life came full circle for a moment as my husband and I (and our four children) visited Mrs. Lipnick and her husband for breakfast at their home. Sitting there at her kitchen table, I felt like I was 16 again, learning my verbs and dreaming of having my own classroom someday. I was so young then, but in some ways I already knew exactly what I wanted in life. In fact, that’s the same year I started dating my husband, too!
As we ate our pancakes, I watched my boys (6 and 7) tell her about their school year and how excited they were for summer break. My oldest just finished 1st grade, and his brother just finished Kindergarten. In fact, in the last three years, we have had a lot of firsts: preschool for both, Kindergarten for both, and now one is done with 1st grade already. This fall marks the beginning of preschool for my daughter, too. So many firsts! And as hard as those firsts have been (this mama is very attached to her littles), there has been one constant positive on this new road I’m navigating as a school-mom, and that is their wonderful teachers. We have been blessed, so blessed, to have had loving, caring teachers who have helped our boys make the transition from home to school so much easier, and to them I am so beyond grateful.
Teachers come in all shapes and sizes, and they touch our lives (and the lives of our children) in all different ways. Perhaps your Kindergarten teacher changed your life; perhaps you don’t even remember her name. Maybe your 8th grade science teacher inspired you to go after that Chemistry degree; or maybe he just gave you a good ol’ dose of self esteem that you needed oh-so-desperately during those awkward middle school years. No matter who it was, or where you were, take a moment to thank them today. If you don’t know how to get ahold of them personally, maybe just give them a shout out on your Facebook page (you never know, maybe someone is a mutual friend!). Or even just share your favorite teacher memories around the dinner table tonight with your family. And if you, too, have been blessed with amazing teachers in your kids’ lives, please don’t let that go unnoticed. Especially in these early years of school, these people are helping raise your children. Some days, they see them more hours than we do! Take the time to show them how much you appreciate the work that they do, the love that they show our little ones, and the impact they are having on you and your family. Life is hard; anyone who makes the days brighter and easier should be acknowledged and thanked. Frequently, if possible.
Cheers to summer break, and to all the teachers out there, enjoy it. And THANK YOU!