I've waited for several months to post this piece because I've been trying to sort my thoughts and words in a way that conveys exactly what I'm trying to say. Several months ago, I was honored to be named my school's Teacher of the Year. After that, I was named Teacher of the Year for my school system, then became part of Alabama's "Sweet Sixteen" when I was named the district 8 Teacher of the Year. (We have 8 districts consisting of several school systems each in my state, and an elementary and high school teacher were named in each district).
I write this not to receive congratulatory comments, although I am very appreciative of all of the sweet words my friends have spoken to me, but rather to express my thanks and gratitude to my personal learning network. I received a great honor. But I feel that it belongs not just to me, but to all of those educators who have nurtured me, taught me, talked me through issues in the hallway and at lunch, sat next to me in workshops, etc...I am the teacher I am today not only because of my training and passion and desire to be better, but because of all the teachers who are a part of my circle.
From my own teachers in school who were beacons of hope and encouragement, who showed me how a great teacher interacts with students and colleagues. I often think back on them and recall their quiet smiles or snippets from their classrooms. To my Home Ec teacher in high school who let me be her aide and do bulletin boards and help me with scholarship applications and part time jobs. She is such a great influence. To my cooperating teacher during my student teaching all those years ago...I would be hard pressed to find a more caring, encouraging, compassionate person on this earth. Sometimes I still ask, "What would Nancy do in this situation?" To my coworkers...too many to name, but I will name a few anyway. Robin, who taught me how to be super-duper organized and was always a step ahead of me. Super helpful, she would bring me things that I didn't even know I need yet...but she knew. Thank goodness for her! Dana, who was my sounding board and partner during Masters classes and beyond. Creative, artsy, and just plain fun! Connie, who is about fifty times smarter than me (although she would never think that), who trained me as a Reading Recovery teacher and became a great friend in the process. To Melissa, who is super encouraging, smart, and a fabulous mentor. To Cara, who I share a brain and almost a name with. We've worked closely together for years and I don't know where I'd be without her! And there are so, so, so many more. If I wrote this in a novel (which I nearly have) I couldn't list everyone. Please know that if I know you personally or have corresponded with you online, you are on the list!
My point is this: I wish I could share this honor. Because I didn't get here on my own. Each time someone says, "Congratulations," I am reminded of all the people on my list who helped me on my journey. I am the teacher I am today because of the influences in my life, and I am thankful to God for them.