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Don't Wait until the Year 2059

Eighth grade was a long time ago for me. So, imagine my recent surprise—my disbelief, really—when I glanced at my computer screen and its eight tiny Zoom boxes and realized that one of those little squares contained my eighth grade English teacher Ms. Hott! It turns out she is enjoying a second career as a college consultant.

I remember her well because she dared to use “Ms.” at a time when very few women did. Her teaching was equally progressive when we spent weeks working on a video journalism project that ultimately aired on a local Baltimore news show, long before we all carried video cameras in our pockets. We were innovative in her classroom, and her energetic approach made me want to go to English class each day.

My experience with an exceptional teacher is not unique, as evidenced by the stories I hear every year from students who write about specific teachers and their impact. They share their “a-ha” moments because of thoughtful projects and assignments. I have no doubt I will continue to learn about teachers who reached deeper into their magic bags in this unconventional year and pulled out even more creative ways to connect with their students. Quite simply, I am in awe of what educational professionals do every single day, especially this year.

This is the time of year when most high school seniors have submitted at least one application, and perhaps a few that require a teacher recommendation. This year, teachers are not just teaching, but performing—at home, in school, with a mask, with family distractions, sitting down, walking around, with unfamiliar technology, and with intermittent internet. And yet, when my students check to see if colleges have received all documentation to complete their applications, there is a green check mark next to the teacher recommendation. Somehow despite the year’s challenges, the teachers have found a way to support their students in this way.

So, here is my thought for the day: do not wait for a chance meeting with a favorite teacher in the future, instead send a quick thank you today.


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