For the five years I attended Eastview Secondary School, my home-room was 131.  Our home-room teacher, JL believed in keeping the same students all the way through their high-school years.

Those years were turbulent for me, as they are for most teenagers.  I was painfully shy, with a very low self-esteem after being bullied for four years at my last elementary school.  I had long stringy hair, braces with a head-gear that capped my head, crooked teeth and out of control acne.  Worse yet, every teacher knew my parents.  My father was at one of the other secondary schools and was a very bright man; my teachers expected the same of me.  Sadly, I struggled for every mark I got.  I disappointed many of those teachers.  I know I did, because they expressed their surprise at my struggle.  "Julie is not using her full potential" was a phrase often seen on my report cards.

When I was graduating from Grade 13, JL pulled me aside and made a request.  He knew I had been accepted to university.  "Please come back and let me know how far you go in your education.  I'm proud of you.  In your early years here, I didn't know if you'd make it through to Grade 12 and here you are graduating from Grade 13."  That was praise to my ears.  Rather than feeling like a disappointment, I felt like I showed what I had inside, and it had been recognized.  Years later, I took my Honours Degree from University to show him.  I remember him being delighted that I had remembered his request, and delighted for me in my success.  

What he didn't know was how his voice kept me going when I struggled at school.  I wanted to be able to show him that certificate of accomplishment, so I would put my head down and get the work done, with a grade average that far surpassed what I had achieved in those high-school years.

Go back and thank the teacher(s) who encouraged you.  Everybody needs positive feedback, and I know teachers (like many of us) could use some positive to balance out the negatives they hear.  It isn't an easy job to help shape the lives of hundreds, perhaps thousands of students over the course of their career.  Consider how many different personalities, and how many “challenged” students they deal with each day.  Like us, teachers are human and imperfect, but they're doing the best they can each day, and I for one, am grateful for the encouragement of some key teachers in my life.

Thanks Jack!


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