For the final nine weeks of the school year, I served as a long-term substitute teacher at my neighborhood middle school — filling in for a teacher who left on maternity leave. I taught 8th grade mathematics and Algebra 1 to 78 students.
This was my first experience teaching in a public school. Earlier in my corporate career, I taught adults how to use computers, and even taught our top executives how to use e-mail for the first time, but that was long ago.
I wasn’t sure if I would like teaching 8th-graders… but it didn’t take long for me to develop a deep affection for these young ladies and gentlemen.
When the school year ended, several of the students handed me thank-you notes. Here are excerpts from a few of them:
(1) “I really for once in my life genuinely enjoyed math class for a quarter. Before you came to teach, [my table-mate] and I would complain about math, but now it’s the highlight of our days. Thanks for being an awesome person! I will always remember you.”
(2) “You did a wonderful job taking over for [the previous teacher], and you’re a great teacher… I admire you for being so confident, and I think you’re very fun. Congratulations on becoming a teacher! I hope all your [future] students will be as great as us! Have fun and smile every day! Find the hypotenuse in every puppet!”
(3) “Thank you for being our long-term sub, and for being so good to us. I appreciate you, and everyone appreciates you.”
(4) “I want to thank you so much for a great end of the year. It was so much fun and I never knew so much kindness could exist in one man!”
I was most touched by a parent’s comment. She approached me while I was watching one of my daughter’s softball games, and told me: “You changed my daughter’s life.” Confused, I asked: “For the better, I hope?” She replied affirmatively, adding: “In just a few weeks, you became her favorite teacher of all time.”
I have since completed all the requirements for my full-time teaching license, and look forward to my next assignment.
But I will never forget the wonderful young ladies and gentlemen in my first class.