Dear High School Teachers:
I’m sorry for the way I acted.
Mrs. Fey: I’m sorry for getting in a fistfight during freshman algebra, and then calling you the B-word for breaking it up.
And what did you do? You showed up at 7 a.m. each morning and worked with me one-on-one, the sun creeping into the classroom, so I could pass freshman algebra — the class I needed to graduate from high school.
Mr. Stewart: I’m sorry for exposing my butt to your floral design class.
Thank you for spending several weekends away from your family to take me (and many other rowdy students) to conferences and presentations.
Mr. Anderson: I’m sorry for trying to sell pot in your classroom.
Thank you for not turning me into the administration, and thank you for offering me a place to stay the following year when my father was put in jail.
Mr. Dinglmire: I’m sorry for calling you “Mr. Dick Muncher.”
I’m sorry for lighting fireworks in your classroom. Thank you for not giving up and for tirelessly urging me to finish my assignments.
I was that kid that you dreaded. I know it.
My parents were divorced; my father was addicted to painkillers. He was in jail most of high school. My mother and I weren’t getting along, so I lived with my grandmother. None of this justifies how I acted, and it wasn’t your problem.
I’m grateful for every time each of you talked me out of quitting school.
You made my difficult life bearable.
18 years after graduating from high school, I’m now an educator (Ironic… I know).
I work at a university. Not long ago, I asked a classroom of 30 students what their short-term goals were, and one said, “to get laid.”
I wanted to get angry. But instead, I thought about my high school teachers, and I did something you all did with me. I pulled him aside.
After chatting for an hour, I discovered his mother died a year earlier. He was now away from home, frustrated and confused. He said he wanted to quit. I urged him to stay.
I’m that student’s ally now, much like how you all were mine.
I learned this from you. This is how I’m paying it forward. I know it doesn’t make up for the things I did, but I hope it helps you to feel like your investment in me was not wasted.