A thank you to my educators


I know what you’re thinking right now.  “What the heck is up with the names, Tonya?”

Well, it’s really quite simple. I haven’t done a post in a few days, and I’ve decided that I want to send out a thank you to the teachers who made the biggest impact on me as a kid.  They will probably never see this, but that’s okay.  I just want to extend my gratitude the only way I know how-through writing.

Mrs. Hodge– It all started in the 5th grade, when I found myself in the classroom of a really fun, upbeat lady who genuinely cared about her students.  There are a lot of teachers who are just in it for the money, but not Mrs. Hodge.  She was honest to goodness one of the best teachers I ever had in my life.  I know she had a soft spot for me, and I had one for her, too.  Sometimes my family had it rough, and Mrs. Hodge knew that.  She once gave me a bag full of hair bows and they were so, so pretty.  She’s also the person who gave me my big break in acting, when I got to play “Mrs. Hodge” in our class play.  Of course, I never actually pursued acting, but I was thrilled back then to get the part.  You were so good to me, Mrs. Hodge, and you made 5th grade memorable.  Thank you.

Mrs. McWilliams– One of my high school English teachers.  I have to thank you for being able to handle the class of 2004 when we barged into your class room.  I don’t think many others could really handle it (not naming names, but there was one teacher who absolutely hated us.  You know who you are).  You really indulged my love for writing and you allowed me to explore so many possibilities within my imagination.  I can’t thank you enough for unlocking compartments I didn’t know existed.

Mrs. Petrowski- Ah. My favorite 8th grade teacher.  I was always the eager girl who thrust her hand in the air when it came time for reading out loud.  You always let me.  Sometimes, no one else would volunteer and I’d spend the entire period reading for everybody else.  You always let me write poems and you told me I had a gift.  I believed you.  I still believe you, and I can’t thank you enough for adding a little more fuel to my fire.  Oh, and we can’t forget how I let you read a few pages of the infamous SCREAM inspired novel involving all my classmates.  If you thought I was crazy, you never voiced it…but you did encourage me to keep writing.  Thank you for that.

Mrs. Bishop– Oh my god, woman. I love you.  You were my favorite of all favorites (but I love you all equally).  You were the only teacher I would enter my old high school for to give a copy of my first novel. You showed me off to your current class and made me blush like crazy.  “This is one of my best students and she writes books now,” you said.  You made me feel proud.  You made me feel like anything was possible.  You told me that I had real talent and you made that fire burn a little stronger.  Thank you so much.

Colonel McClure–  When I entered the JROTC room for the first time at 15 years of age, I was intimidated by you.  Who wouldn’t be?  You were the all-seeing, all-knowing military man who could speak French and you were so intelligent.  You terrified me, haha.  But as time went on and we actually talked, you became one of my favorite educators of all time.  Thank you for believing in me and pushing me to do things I wasn’t sure I was capable of.  You were one of the best supporters I had during the darkest time of my life.  I can never repay you for that.  Oh, and there were several instances when things would happen and I couldn’t explain them back then, but now I know it was you, and I just want to say thank you.  Thank you for caring about your students.

Chief Dowell– I’ve saved you for last because you truly made the biggest impact on me.  When my parents got divorced it was one of the most devastating times of my life.  I literally did not know how to push forward in life.  I pulled away from people, I shut them out…and I hid away in the JROTC room for nearly 2 weeks.  Yes, I skipped classes (don’t do that, kids), and yes, I was very depressed.  I didn’t know what to do with myself.   You knew I was there..I know you knew, but you didn’t say anything to me until that last day.  The day when the principal called me to the office-do you remember that?  I came out of the inventory room (it was a good hiding spot, okay?), and you just looked up from your desk and said, “It’s going to be okay.  Everything will get better.”  I’m still amazed I didn’t get in trouble for that.  Going to the principal’s office was like being sent to my death, but she was very kind and understanding.  She let me return to the JROTC room for the remainder of the day, but I had to promise to get myself together and focus on my studies.  We had a long conversation that afternoon, do you remember?   I sobbed and cried and talked about how much I hated the world and how life wasn’t fair….and it was you, Chief Dowell, who pushed me back to reality and made me get my head on straight.  I can’t thank you enough for what you did for me back then.  I imagine I would’ve turned out very differently had you not intervened on that day.  I will never, ever forget you.

Like I said, there are a lot of educators who simply don’t care about the kids who enter their classroom…but I was extremely blessed to meet the above mentioned people.  They were wonderful, caring, loving, nurturing, and kind.  I wish every person in the world had at least one teacher like that in their life time.


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