Tomorrow is the first day of Teacher Appreciation Week and I thought it would be a great opportunity to reflect on one of the greatest teachers I have ever had, Mr. O’Neill my tenth grade Latin teacher at Midwood High School. Admittedly, as a high school student I was a lazy kid who cared more about winning baseball games than excelling in class. Homework was done sporadically, classes were not very difficult, and I did need to study to get decent grades.
Mr. O’Neill, in many ways, changed my approach to education and learning. Mr. O’Neill had high standards for his students and through his high standards empowered students to do their absolute best at all times. He consistently encouraged students to “fulfill their stature as human persons on their mission to attain the true, the good, and the beautiful.” Mr. O’Neill was described by many students as eccentric, but the skills he taught us were instrumental for college success. He stressed the importance of college level study skills and helped students understand how being disciplined in the classroom would help us achieve anything that we set our mind to after graduation. Mr. O’Neill was a teacher who was able to convince high school students that Latin was both a beautiful and useful language, even if it was hard to learn. However, his care for people and passion for his subject left a lasting impression on me as a high school student long before I even considered teaching as a profession.
So, to Mr. O’Neill and other extraordinary teachers out there I would just like to say thank you for your hard work and dedication to your students. The days of conjugating Latin verbs are long gone for me, but the lessons I learned from Mr. O’Neill are still fresh in my memory. Teachers have the amazing ability to impact a student’s life – long after graduation and their commitments deserve to be highlighted. This week is the perfect time to do just that. I encourage you all, if you had a teacher who inspired you, believed in you, or empowered you to go ahead and thank them.
Join Growing Readers DC in thanking teachers for Teacher Appreciation Week and follow the hashtag #ThankATeacher