I will be cross-posting this over at the One Good Thing site as well.
I graduated high school in 1982 and I just started my 30th year as a high school math teacher. During my time in school there were three particular teachers that had a huge positive impact on me. My junior and senior English teacher, Mrs. Myra Schwerdt; my junior Honors Introduction to Analysis teacher, Mrs. Sally Giles; my senior AP Calculus BC teacher, Mr. Barry Felps.
I was fortunate enough to have run into Mr. Felps about 8 or 10 years into my career at a workshop. I graduated high school in Jacksonville, FL and I went to college and started my teaching career in nearby Gainesville, FL. My graduate advisor at the University of Florida was also Mr. Felps’ advisor when he had been in school. This made me feel that there was some sort of deep connection there and, in an odd way, reaffirmed my decision to think about teaching. Anyway, I was able to see Mr. Felps in person and thank him for his influence. I hope that this meant something to him.
I never saw either Mrs. Schwerdt or Mrs. Giles again after graduating. I fear that Mrs. Schwerdt may no longer be around (this was a long time ago that I graduated!) but recently a friend and classmate sent me a link to a profile of Mrs. Giles. She had changed careers at some point and was working for a local agency in Jacksonville called Cathedral Arts Project. A local paper wrote a feature on her career there as she was preparing to retire. I reached out to the communications director at that program and she shared Mrs. Giles’ contact information with me. I just finished writing an email to Mrs. Giles thanking her for what she did for me and letting her know that she is a major reason that I chose to do what I do.
I know that it means a great deal to me when former students reach out to thank me or simply to share some story as a way to keep in touch. I have no real way of knowing whether Mrs. Giles will remember much about me as it has been over 30 years now since I was in her class. I also know that she no longer teaches, so this note will not serve as a pick me up on a tough teaching day. But I also know that I fell MUCH better having written this note and I hope that in some way it brightens her day.