A thank you to all our educators

Even though gratitude does not suffice for all your sacrifice

When I was 6 years old, I came to Oak Hills Elementary School from a private preschool that indulged many, if not most, of my childish whims. I had a nap time after lunch, I could use the bathroom without having to flag a teacher down mid-lecture and we had pizza for lunch every Friday, good pizza.

For me, the transition to a public school was quite difficult. I cried almost every day, I’d sit alone at recess and lunch and I brought a purple hippo to school, which I ever so creatively named Hippie. In one of these morose days of my childhood, a certain yard duty saw me crying with my purple Hippie during recess. Her name was Lisa Solny.

In the weeks that followed, she gave me a book called “The Kissing Hand,” a book I still have today. In this picture book, a baby raccoon is nervous to go to school because he doesn’t want to leave his mom. Every night before school, because raccoons are nocturnal, the mama raccoon would give the baby raccoon a kiss on his hand that would stay there even if the baby raccoon washed his hands or played in the dirt, so he knows his mother’s love is always with him.

My mom started doing the same thing with me every day, and I slowly stopped crying, and left my purple Hippo on my pink princess sheets instead of my backpack.

Thank you Mrs. Solny (and my mom), I wouldn’t have been able to grow into the person I am today without you.

In my first year of middle school, I was naive.

We had a language arts in-class assignment to find definitions and synonyms for the given vocabulary words. One of the words on this list was “sheath.” We worked on it all period before being given the warning that if the assignment was not finished, it would become homework. Not wanting to be burdened by it over the weekend, I used thesaurus.com to quickly grab what looked like the fanciest synonym that popped up when typing in “sheath.” The word that I wrote down, not knowing the meaning, was “condom.”

When we received these assignments back, Mr. Roesner had not noticed my concerning synonym and asked the entire class if we had any questions about the assignment. I didn’t want to seem stupid, but I thought, if I don’t know the meaning of this word, perhaps my classmates don’t either, and I could seem quite intelligent for knowing a word they didn’t.

So, I raised my hand and asked my question … and everyone laughed. A big thank you to Mr. Roesner for laughing it off and not mistaking my naivete for disrespect. I should add that once class was over, a random classmate came up to me and said, “It’s the thing you put on the thing, before you do the thing, you know?” Still completely oblivious, I just laughed and walked away.

Come high school, I had and continue to have multiple teachers supporting my endeavors.

Thank you to Mrs. Cissell who has held unwavering confidence in me, taking me to honor choir, auditions, providing me with leadership opportunities and giving me opportunities to grow as a person through my voice. I appreciate all your support and your love.

Thank you to Mr. Cook for making me a more educated citizen, for listening to my long rants about political problems and situations all over the globe and helping me understand the world. I appreciate you helping me out with articles and handing over advice for all my mid-teenage life crises.

Thank you to Dr. Anderson for having extensive conversations on psychology, the arts, philosophy and whatever other random subjects that come up in my lengthy digressions. I appreciate all that I’ve learned from you.

Thank you to Mrs. Fowler for providing me with sound advice, listening to my many problems and creating an environment which allowed my passion for journalism to grow. I appreciate all that you’ve done for me, for the Talon and for this program.

Thank you to every single teacher I’ve ever had, from Ms. Amal at Montessori One to Mrs. Aaronson at Oak Hills Elementary School to essentially every teacher I’ve ever had. Because of you, I feel prepared to face and thrive in the world waiting for me outside of high school.

Teachers in the Oak Park High School district go the extra mile for many of their students, and I know we can seem ungrateful if not disrespectful at times, but we love you all and appreciate you.

A quick reminder to my fellow students: Just because you’re in high school doesn’t mean a thoughtful card and a box of caramel sea salt chocolates for your favorite teachers are too “nerdy” to gift. Trust me, a small gesture goes a long way and your teacher will remember it, too.

And to all the teachers here who put forth so much effort for their students, happy teacher appreciation week.