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An Open Letter to the Teacher Who Pushed Me

To the Teacher Who Knew I Could Do More

To the teacher who pushed me to be more,

You have no idea how much I despised you when I was in high school. When I first got placed in your class and realized you weren't going to let me goof off, I hated you. I was angry. I did my work, the bare minimum anyway, but that wasn't enough for you. You wouldn't accept my work if you didn't think it was my best. You made me re-do a countless number of projects because you thought I could do better. Because in your eyes, I didn't put enough effort in. When you found out I was falling behind in other classes, you made me come into your class during lunch and work on homework for those classes and you weren't even my teacher. You came to my study hall to check that I was actually studying and if I wasn't you made me sit in your classroom and study. It seemed like borderline harassment. You were a huge pain in my ass and I tried my damnedest to avoid you. Thank you.

Thank you for not accepting my mediocrity. You pushed me to do more. You pushed me to work harder. You believed in me when everyone else had given up on me. I was never the "good student." Thank you for pushing me to be. You yelled at me when I needed it. You made me get off of my ass and put in an effort. Knowing that someone believed I could do better than I was doing was the most encouraging thing I've ever received.

I always thought that you doing all of this made you a hard-ass. You were the teacher who was always on my case. You were the teacher that made kids cry because you tore up projects in front of them. I realize now that you were that way because you cared. You cared when you didn't have to. And even though back then I denied it, you quickly became one of my best friends. You gave me a sense of parental guidance when I felt I didn't have any. You didn't just teach, you guided. You helped me find my way through high school and gave me advice on every problem I came to you with, school related or not. And even now, when I come back to my old high school to visit, you're still there; always offering me advice and still pushing me to do more.

You are the kind of teacher that we need more of. We need more teachers who are willing to go the extra mile to help students. Not just the "good" students, but the back of the classroom kids. The kids who do the bare minimum. They are the ones who really need teachers like you. Teachers that are willing to basically harass their students in order to make them feel that someone believes they can do better. Without teachers like you, students would give up on themselves so much faster. You have no idea the impact you had on my high school career and so many others too. I hope my daughter is lucky enough to have a teacher like you.

If it weren't for you, I probably would have given up on myself a long time ago and dropped out. You pushed me. You believed in me. You were a colossal pain in my ass. And I couldn't be more thankful. I wouldn't be where I am today if it weren't for you pushing me, shoving me, forcing me to do my absolute best and not settling for half-assed work. You taught me the greatest lesson I've learned so far. You taught me not to settle. I didn't realize it at the time, but you taught me to expect more and not settle for less, especially from myself. "Mediocrity will not be accepted." I realize now that it wasn't just about homework.

Thank you for being the teacher who pushed me,


A Grateful Student

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