Each weekday, my first assignment is to scan the headlines to see what’s being reported on the hot topics we’re following at work and how it will shape our day. Soon after I send my clips to Skyrocketing Counter, he comes over to lament the latest turn of events, comment on reporting styles and shake his head over what’s going to happen next. Recently, one of our conversations focused on some opinions expressed in print about the importance of education, the financial worth of degrees and the value of the teaching profession.
Education has always been important to me. As the daughter of a teacher, I’m the product of my parents’ significant investment of effort, time and money spent on education, both in and out of the classroom. Contrary to what some neighbors might think, my parents’ legacy is not their back yard. It’s me.
I’m also a product of the teachers who guided me through 14 years at CSG. Reading the comments that they wrote to accompany my grade cards, it’s amazing how much these teachers pinpointed my strengths and weaknesses – and how accurate those descriptions still are today. They described my diligence, thoroughness and eagerness to learn, praised me for being organized and using my time wisely, and appreciated how I “approach experiences cheerfully and confidently, looking for the best in every person and situation.”
My math and science teachers recognized how hard it was for me to grasp concepts in their disciplines, but my gym teachers really had their work cut out for them. Just thinking about learning to swim was no small task for me, so my swimming teacher cleverly awarded me a “Water Watcher” badge. Overcoming timidity and working on endurance were common suggestions for me that continue to be relevant today. Regardless of the subject matter, they all got on me for being so reticent and kept encouraging me to talk more in class. (That’s still happening in the workplace and in social situations; not too long ago, someone advised me to not be so diplomatic, speak up and say what I think.)
Reading their comments, I also noticed how in touch my teachers were with the educational adventures which were happening on the home front. “It is especially enjoyable to see the delight with which she shares her varied interests and personal experiences with others,” wrote my 3rd grade teacher. “We are all richer as a result of her doing so.”
Two teachers even forecast what profession I’d choose. My high school history teacher recognized my “intense and meticulous research.” My 6th grade teacher prophetically wrote, “I know she’d be best left to her own resources in a library.”
My teachers have a knack for making me feel better. When I reached a low point a few years ago, I corresponded with that same history teacher, who’s my very favorite of all. “Your teachers and classmates at CSG always benefited from your insight and you have given so much to so many people,” he wrote. “You are a constant reminder of the value of a CSG education and we are proud of you!” I printed out those encouraging words and still look at them whenever I need a pep talk.
When I saw him and a few of my other former teachers recently, it was incredible to hear how much they remembered about their shy, diligent student after almost 25 years. My 8th grade English teacher is still talking about my research paper on Beatrix Potter that I wrote in 1983. My Planetary Science teacher recalled what an Anglophile I was. But most of all, it was terrific to talk about Beowulf, The Daughter of Time, “The Lion in Winter,” and the Vatican Library with the fellow historian who made the greatest contribution to my academic development.
So, regardless of their subject matter, my teachers made quite a difference in my life. Thanks to them, my mother, my aunt, and my four friends from Sweet Briar and Washington and Lee who are teachers, I place great value on education and the teaching profession.