Teachers are such a vital part of our lives. Good or bad, they have an impact on us in our formative years. The best teachers do more than teach us reading and writing, math and history. They teach us about life. They help us to discover truths about ourselves.
Today’s first was to thank a former teacher. I’ve had a lot of great teachers. The one who came to mind today was Mr. Stiles, from junior high.
I had just moved from the big city of Tulsa, Ok to the small rural town of Noel, MO. It was quite a culture shock. I thought we’d moved to Mayberry to live. Small town life has its advantages, but that summer, with all my friends and many family members back in Tulsa, it was difficult for me to see that. My grandmother walked me over to my new school so I could look around before the fall semester started. In the math and science room, a young teacher perched atop a ladder, hanging inspiring words above the chalkboard. That’s how I met Mr. Stiles. Perhaps because he was new too, perhaps because he seemed to understand the deep angst and playfulness young teens swing between in a single day, he quickly became a favorite of mine. He was fun, engaging and insightful. His math and science lessons were great and often unconventional. His life lessons were powerful. He always had time to chat with and encourage a student. And he got us out of the classroom and involved with community projects such as picking up litter in town.
Thanks to Google, I was able to track down an email address for Mr. Stiles and let him know how grateful I am that he chose daily to face a classroom of rowdy teens and make learning interesting and fun. More than that, he made an impact on my life, helping me to begin to see who I was and what I was capable of. And that was a precious gift. Thank you, Mr. Stiles.