“Teachers can change lives with just the right mix of chalk and challenges.” – Joyce Meyer –

I have been blessed with knowing many gifted and caring teachers. Growing up in Newfoundland & Labrador many schools were staffed by women religious, a.k.a. nuns. We called them ‘Sister’ and of the many I knew as a child I remember Sister Euphrasia best. She was a sweet woman who lived her faith through her actions. She was kind and unfailingly patient, and in my opinion epitomized everything a teacher should be. I don’t remember what exactly made her so special but I do remember feeling cared for, respected, safe, and nurtured in her care. She helped me grow on a personal level as well as intellectually. She helped me discover a love of books and learning and encouraged my childish curiosity.

Years later when our family moved to Ontario I switched to public school. I remember how my teacher helped me make the transition to my new school and helped me over the pain and grief of homesickness. Once again I was blessed with a truly talented and kind teacher.  His name was Mr. Guistini and he became my first real crush – fortunately if he noticed he never made much of it. I think the thing I most appreciate is the way he handled bullying in the classroom and helped each child feel special and unique; how he emphasized an individual’s strengths and moved heaven and earth to help any academic weaknesses.

Yes, my life was truly blessed by extraordinary and gifted teachers. Sadly this was not the case for two of my siblings. They experienced cruelty, mockery, and psychological torture at the hands of certain teachers. I wish they had known teachers like mine – people who enjoyed their work and looked upon it as more of a ‘mission’ rather than a job. It is easy to see how people who enjoy this work can make a huge difference in the lives of their charges.  I wish every teacher could understand what an impact they make on the lives of their students. I wish they could all know how important their work is, and therefore how important they are – and not only to their individual students, but to society as a whole.

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