A Challenge for Students and Teachers
This post was originally published on May 7, 2017, and updated on July 25, 2020.
I want to single out one of my favorite teachers—one who really made a difference in my life.
Her name is Betty Wilgus, and she was my first grade teacher. I know, it’s hard to believe that I remember what it was like to be in first grade! But I do, because I always remember how people make me feel.
And Mrs. Wilgus made me feel loved. She met us in the classroom each day with a vibrant smile and a warm pat on the back. I vividly remember how very welcome I felt in her classroom and the inviting, nurturing environment she provided—she was patient, she was kind, and she cared deeply about her students.
Recently, I paid Mrs. Wilgus a visit to let her know how much she mattered to me, and probably countless others as well. Upon opening the door, she immediately recognized me and asked me to come sit in her living room. As we sat, I was able to explain the reason for my visit:
“You made me feel very loved and cared for in your classroom, and that meant so much. You were also very funny—I specifically remember one time when you told the entire class that if we were quiet after returning from recess, that you might faint. And that’s exactly what you did upon entering the classroom! My classmates and I roared! Thank you for caring so much about students. Please know that you mattered to me.”
Mrs. Wilgus had the biggest smile on her face as she thanked me for telling her this. She said it was nice to know that what she did mattered. The reason she initially chose to go into education was because she loved children so much and wanted students to truly love school. She especially wanted to teach children how to read because she felt that was the foundation of other learning.
We went on to chat about various topics including our common love of books, spirituality, and the goodness of life. She told me her motto in life is: “Never give up. You must always keep trying.”
All of us need to know we are making a difference, especially now. When there’s so much uncertainty in the world, teachers are still there for their students every day. I hold Mrs. Wilgus’s words so close to me during this difficult time. We must not give up now. We must keep pushing forward to give the children we love so dearly the best education we can. And I believe in each and every one of us teachers.
So, here’s my challenge to you: If you have a favorite teacher, write them a note—a letter, an email, or even just a message on social media. Take a moment to let them know that their service to you mattered. That who they are as teachers matters.
Let’s give our teachers some gratitude for their devotion to this very noble, sacred profession!