Dear Ms. Shepard,
You know, it’s funny but after all these years, I don’t know your first name. I wonder if my mom does? At any rate, in case you don’t remember me, I was your student in second grade. I’m afraid that’s a long time ago now. *cough* twenty-five years *cough* Okay, even I didn’t realize it had been that long, I just did the math right now. Perhaps we’ll talk about something else now. Truthfully, I don’t really remember most of the teachers I’ve had. Perhaps because there were so many, but mostly because while they taught me, very few of them truly reached me.
You were the first. In your class, I not only learned second grade things, I learned to love learning. I think that may be the greatest gift anyone has ever given me. I can remember when you taught our class, you made me want to know more, every single time. Wherever you may be, you might have never thought of me again after that year. But I think of you. To this day, I love learning. I can’t just do something and that’s that. I need to know everything there is to know. My friends, my family, they comment on this all the time. I can’t stop, it’s almost like an addiction. But it is an addiction I am glad to have.
I grew up to become a librarian because of this part of me. I like learning and finding information and learning some more. And as a librarian I am able to use that passion and that skill to help people. It’s the perfect storm of education and information. Perhaps I was just born this way. Or maybe it was a confluence of events that led to me being who I am. That’s the most likely scenario. Regardless, it doesn’t really matter, because the first time I recognized it in myself, I was in your class. You brought it out into the light and showed me my favorite part of myself.
I am forever grateful to you for that. When people talk about school, I always say second was my favorite grade. You are the reason why. Beyond your presence and the feelings I recall, I don’t have many specific memories of that time. I do have one strong one, though. At the end of the year, you asked me to come to school the day after it ended to help you pack up your classroom for the summer. You chose me, out of all the students in the class. (I knew you always liked me best…) I was so excited to get to go to the school when I wasn’t supposed to be there. We spent the morning just doing tasks. I cleaned the chalkboards and erasers and put things away for you. Then, you took me out to lunch. We went to Wendy’s. Or maybe Hardee’s. I’m really not sure anymore, but I remember it being a place I rarely visited. We didn’t eat fast food much then, and if we did it was McDonalds. At any rate, you let me get whatever I wanted. And I got a pop. A whole cup of pop and I didn’t have to ask my mom first. I felt so grownup. And my pop came in a kid’s cup with a bendy straw and the scene on the cup was in hypercolor. It kept changing as I drank more and the cup warmed up. I was enchanted. I actually kept that cup for years, YEARS, but in my room. I didn’t drink from it anymore, it was just a memento of a wonderful day.
I’m not sure why that story sticks out so much in my memory, but it does. I think it was because I admired you so much and you treated me with respect and kindness. Even if you don’t remember me at all, that’s all right. The point is, I will never forget you. You helped me become the person I am today.
Thank you for being part of my life,
(to see why I am doing this, read here)