“The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts.”

Spring

I am here.

I am so unbelievably lucky to be able to say that and feel that and understand that. I can commend my own strength and my mother’s love, but there’s more to it.

I spent many nights during high school crying and self-harming, and it is so hard for me to think or talk or write about it so I’ll have to leave it at that. I wish I could find a way to translate my pain better so it can be emotionally comprehensible but it’s probably best if I don’t.

Waking up for school was more like a preparation for what was to come during the day; uncontrollable feelings of isolation and self-hatred and vulnerability. It’s painful to say but I am surprised that I am still here and that I am better. But despite the pain I feel when I recollect how I felt throughout those four years, I am overwhelmingly excited about graduating in four days. And I am here to do that.

Although during high school I struggled with finding the confidence and acceptance I needed in order to make friends, I always had my teachers around and supporting me. It wasn’t just an understated teacher-pet relationship, it was more like the give and take of friendship. God, my teachers understood me more than I even understood myself at times. I had a few teachers who texted me to check up on me, called me to ask where I was when I was absent, wrote me long, motivational emails. I think, my teachers are a huge part of the reason I am here today.

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My freshman year I had a Physical Science teacher who was honestly a blessing. I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to get a teacher who not only accepted who I was, but taught me to embrace it. It was a difficult year for me because I and just moved back from India, but he made me feel comfortable and safe. During my sophomore year I passed him in the hallway and we caught up, and he said something along the lines of “I’m getting so old, I don’t know what’s going to happen” and it was the worst thing ever. I hated that he felt this way, it was such a surprise coming from someone who filled my days with brightness and laughter. I hated that.

My sophomore year and my senior year I had a teacher who taught me Biology and AP Biology. If anything she reminded me of my grandmother, and maybe I was like a granddaughter to her, I certainly hope so because she told me one day that she didn’t have any and that it was “nice to have me around.” She is a gem. Despite having to teach all types of kids – the boisterous, the troublesome, the indifferent – she gave every student a chance. She taught me how important it was to avoid cynicism. She always believed in me, even after I failed tests and fell asleep during long lectures. She refused to believe in failure, from anyone. Whenever someone put themselves down she always argued with them. Her frequent trips to the doctor and her multiple surgeries over the duration of my time in high school worried me endlessly.

My junior year I had a favorite teacher who was also everyone’s favorite teacher because he was just a likable guy. No matter how much you wanted to hate him you couldn’t because he wouldn’t let you. He was the only teacher and the first adult I voluntarily talked to about my self-harm. I told him not to judge me, I asked him not to alter his perception of me. The only question he asked me was when I last did it. After that, he told me to call him even when I was crying so hard I couldn’t speak, because he didn’t want me to keep doing that, and he never wanted to think about me doing that. My senior year he said to me, “I just wanted to let you know that I am on your side. Someone is on your side.” This is the same man who I occasionally catch glimpses of in the hallway looking distressed and worried and red-eyed, but I don’t think he even tells anyone about how he really feels.

In addition to these teachers I also had plenty of others who also expressed the same amount of love and compassion for me, but if I were to write about all of them it would take days, because it’s so hard to properly string the words together to tell you how grateful I am for what they did for me. I had an Algebra II teacher who never gave up on molding me into a confident student, a Literature teacher who never stopped supporting my writing, a Journalism teacher who stood up for me when I was being hurt, a guidance counselor who held my hand when I had to tell the truth to a therapist, a Statistics teacher who yelled at my (ex)boyfriend for calling me names. I thought I was underserving of this, of people caring about me and wanting to take care of me, and when I expressed this to my French teacher, she said,”Well, we want to fight for you. Who wouldn’t?”

Despite having their own grievances, my teachers always expressed their love for me. I can never thank them enough. Although it is believed that one’s true teacher is one’s own self, I can’t help but believe that my teachers were the reason I was able to find and understand myself in the first place. I am not just graduating for myself, but for my teachers. Hard work, gratitude, and love should never go to waste.


Quote: “The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts.” – C.S. Lewis

Also some inspirational teachers: Ms. Norbury from Mean Girls, Professor Dumbledore from Harry Potter, Mr. Keating from Dead Poets Society, Mr. Finn from School of Rock

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