It’s the middle of August; the first day of school. The gymnasium is full of clamoring middle-schoolers seated on the ground. The eighth graders, the class to which I belong, get to sit in the metal chairs the upperclassmen are privileged with. A small, older woman, with bright aqua eyes and pixie-cut white hair, takes the microphone after a welcoming speech from our principle. Her gaze rolls over everyone, and the room is filled with an attentive silence.
“No matter where you go, or where life takes you, just don’t forget to leave your mark,” she said, “Work hard to achieve something inside of yourself first. All of you are capable of leaving a legacy behind, it just takes determination to do it.”
Leave a legacy behind.
Seven years later, and those words still resonate with me. I thought I’d left my mark on the plaque in the drama classroom or the archives in the Associated Student Body of my high school. But I have come to realize that stopping there wouldn’t be enough. Mrs. Johnson, a kind and caring woman, was a teacher for the right reasons: she loved seeing her students thrive and prosper with every new opportunity. She challenged me to become better, and always extended her hand when I needed something new.
She was a teacher who truly loved what she did, and made kids better because of it.
I encourage all of you, the readers, to find the passion rollicking exuberantly inside of you. Find it. Exhibit it. Show your friends. Show your family. Show the world. But before all of that—show yourself. Show yourself how capable you are of achieving great things. Don’t stop fighting for what you believe in, especially if that faith is stored within yourself. Be confident and share who you are and what you love until nothing else matters.
I truly hope every student was as lucky as I was to find such an inspiring mentor. If you haven’t, don’t fret. Such imparted wisdom can come from the most unlikely of teachers. For middle and high schoolers, it’s always important to have a favorite teacher to guide you out of the fray, and as you emerge then submerge back into academia (known as the college years) you might just unexpectedly come across a professor who inspires you into your future career.
The point is: teachers are incredible beings, and the greatest ones will care for you when you take the chance to know them. Greatest of all, you never know when the words of one being will trigger within you, the best self you can hope to attain.
-Kiran Bains Sahota