1. For showing us something that we never knew we were good at. You were the person who made us realize that we could write well, or solve complicated math equations, or play the drums like we were born with drumsticks in our hands.
2. For encouraging us to keep studying. We had doubts about our interests, and what major to declare, and what choices to make for our career, but you reminded us that we had to keep trying, and exploring, and testing our options.
3. For proving the importance of staying in school whenever we questioned it.
4. For making us put effort into our work. It was really easy to slack off and to not care about our assignments, but you made us care. You made us challenge ourselves. You made us stay up all night writing that paper and gathering information for that project, which we may have hated at the time, but in the end, we felt proud of our hard work. Thank you for making us finish what we started.
Thank you for giving your students second and third chances.
5. For coming in every single day and being our teacher no matter what was happening in your social life. You must have had terrible days when the last thing you wanted to do was come into our classroom and teach a bunch of uninterested, undisciplined students. But you did anyway. You came in leaving all of your personal matters at the door. That was must have been extremely difficult. Thank you for having the strength to teach through whatever was bothering you.
6. For believing in us. Your support made us motivated. Because you were optimistic that we could succeed, we believed that we would succeed.
7. For giving us honest feedback on our work. If you thought we could do better, you told us so.
8. For disciplining fairly.
9. For answering our questions, even when you had gone over the material several times. Sometimes we really had a hard time understanding. Sometimes we were focused on other things. Sometimes we just weren’t listening. Thank you for taking some extra time to explain it to us again.
10. For breaking through our comfort zones with dismal material. You taught us that history is often grim, but it’s important to know our past. You showed us how amazing science really is, and you assigned a book to read that we still, to this day, think about.
11. For spending hours coming up with ways to make your class the best one. For taking extra time to create engaging power points with photographs and videos, or to print out articles you think we should read. Thank you for taking us out of class and to a museum so we could see an iconic painting in the flesh.
12. For constantly grading our work so we knew if we were making progress.
13. For having office hours so we could continue the discussion you started in class.
14. For caring about each one of your students, even if some of your students didn’t care about your class. You must have been frustrated, but you never showed it. You managed to not let their indifference affect your teaching, which is nothing short of amazing.
15. For putting up with an educational system that is sometimes flawed.
16. For making us question everything we thought we knew.
17. For never giving up on us. Maybe you wanted to at some point, but you never did.
18. For trying to get us excited about class. For trying to get us on board with the material that you believed was fascinating. For showing us what it looks like to be passionate about something.
19. For always trying to be a good mentor even if you never felt adequately appreciated.
20. For changing something within us. You made an impact in our lives. Your lesson plans, your words, and your tireless effort had a lasting effect on us. We may not have realized it at the time, but now when we look back, we know that we would not be who we are today if you had never been our teacher.