Teachers are a part of many memories we have growing up. They have a lot more influence on us than many of us realize.
In fact, aside from family, they're the adults who shape our lives the most.
Yet, there seem to be many people in the profession who don't understand what an immense responsibility they carry.
Now, I don't know about anywhere else, but where I'm from, you can't say anything negative about teachers without them jumping down your throat.
Many teachers I know are extremely defensive and refuse to see anything wrong with the education system.
I will be the first to admit this doesn't apply to all of them. In my years of schooling, I've had so many fantastic teachers.
Several of my teachers have helped me overcome so many challenges and figure out who I truly was.
I'm so grateful for people like them because I don't know what my life would have become otherwise.
However, the truth is, I needed such amazing teachers some years to offset the incredible damage done by other teachers other years.
I am here to say teachers matter.
Anyone considering a career in teaching should make damn sure it's what he or she is meant to do because teachers mess with children's lives.
Sadly, I didn't always have good teachers, or even teachers who belonged in the classroom.
One specific year, I had a teacher who just about ruined my education forever. I was very young.
I was not a perfect student.
I was struggling with a recent diagnosis of auditory processing deficiency, which, in short, means my brain doesn't interpret what I hear very well when there are many distractions around me.
I really need to be able to concentrate, which isn't likely in a classroom full of children.
I was trying my best. I also had a motor delay, which made things like writing difficult for me.
But I really wanted to keep up. I loved to write.
I was still figuring out what solutions worked for me.
I had doctors and specialists advocating for me. They were explaining my disorder and the fact that I also had a loss of hearing in one ear.
My teacher had all the information that was available about me. This was extremely generous of my family because medical records are confidential.
However, my mother wanted me to have the best shot at success, so she was open and communicated with my principal and teacher.
Now, maybe the school should've had a better support system in place for children like me. Maybe I really didn't belong in a classroom setting like that one.
But that does not excuse the hell this teacher put me through for an entire school year.
Even now, over a decade later, I carry scars from the way this person taught.
This was the person who jumpstarted an agonizing elementary school experience for me, by teaching my peers it was 100 percent okay to treat me like garbage.
My teacher didn't just mishandle things. She completely ignored what my doctors had said.
My teacher bullied a child.
Over the course of that year, this teacher informed me what a "bad" child I was. This teacher informed me no one liked me in my class.
This teacher sought to exclude me at every possible turn. This teacher just did not like me.
I'm sorry, but teachers need to recognize there are reasons kids are the way they are. They can't decide to hate a child.
On one occasion, my teacher took a writing assignment I worked so hard on out of my hands and held it up so my entire class could comment on how horribly I'd done.
After that, the teacher proceeded to approach my classmates and ask, "Can you read this? Would you want to read this?"
I broke down and cried.
Did I get upset and frustrated? Sure. Probably a little too often, at that. But I didn't cry until I got home and shut the door to my room.
But this time, I lost it.
Now, my mother knew my teacher was difficult. My mom knew I didn't like my teacher.
But I didn't discuss the true nature of what was happening in that classroom because this was my teacher.
I trusted my teacher and never imagined this person would actually do anything wrong.
But my mom found out that day because another student told my mother the teacher made me cry.
That's when she asked me what was happening at school. I'm lucky my mother stepped in for me because some parents wouldn’t.
This was a long time ago, but I can assure you, there are children suffering in classrooms every day.
The teachers you get in childhood matter.
One teacher can change your entire life. For me, many did.
My second-grade teacher taught me kindness and patience. She put more effort in than was ever her responsibility because she cared.
My seventh-grade teacher showed me how to have fun learning. He taught me honesty and how to work hard for what I wanted.
My 10th-grade English teacher taught me to challenge myself, and gave me opportunities to work hard.
My 11th-grade religion teacher believed in me and gave me opportunities to be leader. She understood my challenges and helped me address them.
My 12th-grade English teacher taught me independence and responsibility. He trusted my judgment, and is still one of the coolest guys I know.
The teacher who decided to hate me, however, did not influence me. I didn't let that happen.
I took my pain, sadness, frustration, anger and low self-esteem to make a change.
I decided I had to choose between letting that teacher win or shutting the situation down.
I could let that teacher defeat me and stop my life before it even started, or I could use the pain to motivate me.
I chose the latter.
I finished elementary school and switched to another school system.
I then achieved honors all four years of high school, and achieved top marks in multiple subjects. I graduated with awards and scholarships.
Although I chose not to finish college, it was my personal decision. It wasn't because I couldn't do it.
It's important parents and teachers know what's happening in our schools. Teachers need to be there for their students.
Parents need to be aware of what's going on in their children's lives, particularly after they leave the house in the morning.
Children do not deserve to suffer. Children who aren't model students need support and encouragement.
If we want the best for our future, we need to create the best for our children.
It all starts with their education.