I wasn't a great student.
There was something about the academic structure, in its perceived rigidity and seemingly vast lack of space for the insular, introverted, timid daydreaming I often found myself immersed in. I did most of my learning outside of the classroom, in fantasy pulp novels and roadtrip adventures and wholehearted relationships forged out of a love for embracing a certain "rebelish mood."
I am also okay with the nostalgic, distorted way in which I romanticize the past. Jessica rolls her eyes when I go off on my romantic tangents, as though I lived as some sort of Daniel Boone meets Calvin (of Calvin & Hobbes) meets Huckleberry Finn.
School wasn't all that bad though. EVEN IF I JUST WANTED TO TALK TO MY TIGER AND EAT BUGS AND MAKE TIP-TAP SOUNDS ON THE WHITE PICKET FENCE WITH MY TRUSTY ADVENTURE STICK. School had its merits. I created wonderful friendships. I was introduced to Ernest Hemingway. And I had a handful of teachers who I loved.
These teachers made it pretty spectacular at times. They made me feel cared for, even if my output or talent or lack of focus didn't warrant it. They cared. They wanted to be there. They engaged with their work and with the students in a way that inspired and made me want to be there. They met with me outside of class if I had questions I was too quiet to voice. They wanted me to excel and share in their joy for T.S. Eliot and Carl Sandburg and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
To them I say thank you from the bottom of my heart to the top of my brain.
As for my wife, who currently teaches as an adjunct instructor at two community colleges, you make me so proud. You remind me of the teachers I remember. You care deeply. You want students to excel and understand and see the things you love within a particular book or essay. You fret when they don't get it. You want to make an impact. Prepare them. Guide them. You aspire to be the kind of teacher you loved and whose teaching made an impact on you as a student. Plus, you do all of this while simultaneously referencing Daredevil and making fart jokes.
Thank you, Jessica. You matter so much. As a wife, a friend, a daughter, a critter, a sister, and a teacher.
Happy Teacher Appreciation Day!