A Few Teachers Changed My Life

Happy National Teacher’s Day!

Being in the classroom for the last eleven years, I have gained millions of stories, trials, tribulations, and OMG stories that I can tell you right now! But, that’s not what this post is about. Instead, I want to tell you about some fantastic former Baltimore City Public School teachers who developed and nurtured my love for reading and writing. It all began at Mary E. Rodman Elementary School #204.

I was in second or third grade, Ms. Gilmore’s class to be exact when I discovered my love for creative writing. Back then it felt like we were writing a new story every day, the whole time I think it was because we had finished all our other work. I enjoyed writing and creating all types of characters and talking objects that I thought it was a treat for us to write every day. Little did I know Ms. Gilmore was helping to shape the direction of my life.

On to fourth grade, at the same elementary school. I met Ms. Drake. During our Language Arts block every day we ended with a journal writing topic, and we had to write a complete (composition sized page) to participate in recess. I looked forward to the different writing prompts Ms. Drake provided us with and often exceeded the expectation for writing we had to do daily.

Then there was middle school, the sixth grade with Ms. Engelhardt. Her English class was the best. She taught me how to analyze and eventually write poems. She was this cool, young white lady who believed in her students and although I went to “Rock Glen” she knew wasn’t one of those pushover teachers. When she introduced me to the writings of Maya Angelou, I declared her my favorite teacher that year.

In eighth grade, there was a creative writing/science teacher. I enjoyed the month or two in her class until she had to go on maternity leave. While I was happy for her and her bundle of joy, I was disappointed that we wouldn’t be able to finish our creative writing unit.

For high school, I attended Edmondson Westside Sr. High School, which is a phenomenal high school here in Baltimore that doesn’t get nearly as much credit as it deserves. Each English teacher in that school held students to a high standard as students, writers, and citizens of Baltimore. Mr. Walker taught me to take my writing seriously and how to research. The joy of research is an invaluable skill that I carry and use with me to this day. Mr. Hulla taught me how to analyze and think deeper about my reading and then translate that into my writing. Ms. Phillips taught me how to develop a thesis statement and worked tirelessly to ensure we were all effective in our oral and written communication.

I’ve had many wonderful teachers from elementary to college who have worked tirelessly to ensure that I not only understood the curriculum but made sure that I believed in myself and my ability as I applied my knowledge to the real world. Of course, at the time I didn’t know that was their goal. That’s why they worked so hard.

I know from personal experience that teaching is one of the most thankless jobs. But my sincerest hope is that I have helped to shape the confidence of students past and students to come.

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!

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