Bill Gates, Oprah, Rachael Ray, P Diddy...the list of famous working girls and boys goes on and on...they're known for their inventions, ambition, charity, and of course, money. Notice that not one that I mentioned (or one that you thought of on your own) is a teacher. Now I'm not going to get on my soap box and tell you that these icons would be nowhere if it weren't for their teachers, but these icons would be nowhere if it weren't for their teachers!
After I graduated college I met up with an old friend one night for drinks who was asking questions about me going back to school to be a teacher. He said, and I quote, "That's not even a real career, this grad school is just a waste of your father's money." You can imagine the heated battle it started and how quickly it fizzled out when I reminded him that if he didn't have teachers who taught him how to read and write he wouldn't be the aspiring writer that he is today.
I can remember the day in 3rd grade when I knew I wanted to teach. My favorite teacher (to this day) Mrs. K told me after a presentation I did on the state of Rhode Island that I'd be "a great teacher someday." Her words rang in my ears as I commuted to my 9-5 marketing internship in NYC the summer before my senior year of college when I realized I needed to make a change. I always wanted to teach. I used to line up my stuffed animals and give them fake tests as I sat at my makeshift desk with my grade book (that I actually made my mom buy me at a teacher supply store) and my mug of hot chocolate that I would "accidentally" spill on my students' tests and have to automatically give them all A's (did this happen to any of you in grammar school because I was constantly a victim of teacher-spilled-coffee-on-the-homework)
Mrs. K was the type of teacher that every elementary school student hoped to have. She let us listen to music while we were doing classwork, she taught us ballroom dancing at recess, let us watch Yankee games in class, and refrained from giving homework on days when Macy's was having a one day sale. She also made all of her clothes and always had the brightest color nail polishes. She would dry our tears when we failed a test and stick up for the girls if the boys ever teased us. I also know every state capital and my times tables with my eyes closed because of her. And the best posters and dioramas I ever made were in 3rd grade.
Last year Mrs. K got very sick. Her health decline very quickly. I had to let her know how much she influenced my decision to be a teacher. I wrote her a letter explaining how every time I hear of a Macy's One Day Sale I think of her and how I try to create a relationship with my students similar to the one she had with us. Unfortunately, I sent the letter one day too late. Her family read the letter though and wrote back to me but I hope she got the message anyway.
Now I am not writing this trying to convince everyone to be teachers or that teachers are the only reason any working girl can be successful, but rather this post is about inspiration. There are very few teachers (besides those portrayed in movies set in schools in the ghetto...and Dumbledore) that are portrayed in media as rich, famous, entrepreneurs like many of the other icons we are supposed to admire. Mrs. K inspired me to do what I always had a passion for, even though it may not be the most popular or trendy decision. Has there been anyone in your life that had the same effect?