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Teacher Appreciation Week

They come in all shapes and sizes from different parts of the world. We see them every day for 12 years, oftentimes beyond that. We see them in person or on the worldwide web. They can hold from a small 20 to over 50 people in one room. Six months out of the year for five days a week, they layout activities for these people, each one different from the next. We often forget about them although they are always there. They are our counselors, mentors, and biggest cheerleaders. They play a significant role in shaping our minds as toddlers to adults, and they do not plan to stop anytime soon---even if there is a global pandemic. Welcome to what it means to be a teacher.

The author in graduation regalia posing with her teacher
Mrs. Dominguez & I pictured on my Selma High graduation in 2018.

From Monday, May 3 to Friday, May 7 is annual Teacher Appreciation Week. Teachers impact the lives of millions of children and adults every day. In these unprecedented times, people have come to realize how much of a difference teachers make in their children's lives. From preschool to university, teachers are there for us literally every step of the way. Watching my mom as a middle school teacher and through my own personal experiences, I knew in my heart that I am meant to become a teacher. I can think of a handful of teachers that have made a significant impact on my life, but there is only one who shaped me to who I am today: my 7th grade ELA teacher Mrs. Dominguez.

Writing has always and always will be my safe place. My imagination ran wild when I was a kid and I would use my writing to express it. I was a really shy kid growing up so the blank page was an easier place for me to share my voice without actually being forced to say words. It really didn’t click that writing would be a passion of mine until I was 12 years old. One day, as my mom and I walked to our car after school, Mrs. Dominguez shouted across the hall to my mom: "Sally! Your daughter is going to be an author one day!" I knew I was good, but no one really told me that I had a gift for writing. The day those ten words were spoken to me was a day that I will never forget.

Through those ten words, I was able to find my identity as a writer. For years, writing has been my escape but now it has become my reality. Through those ten words, I was able to join my high school newspaper and build on my new identity as a writer--having my fellow classmates finally acknowledge me for my gift and not just for my shyness. Through those ten words, I was able to be recommended by my college Honors English teacher to work at the Reading and Writing Center and pass on my knowledge to those struggling. Through those ten words, I was able to take part in a life-changing event called ‘Storytelling for Change,” where I was able to showcase my personal story to hundreds of others. I cannot express enough gratitude for Mrs. Dominguez and what she has given me the courage to do: to keep on writing.

It blows my mind how much of an impact those ten words made on my life nearly ten years ago. I have always had teachers just give me a thumbs-up sticker or make me the student example on writing assignments, but I have never had a teacher vocally express how much they enjoy my writing. It is almost like Mrs. Dominguez knew that those were the words I needed to hear to start forming my identity at such a young age. In middle school, everyone is trying to find themselves--including myself. I did not know what made me, ME. When those ten words were spoken, I knew I had found myself. So, not only do teachers shape the minds of their students, but they also serve as inspiration and motivation. Teachers help us find the things we love and push us further into that passion. Despite all the work they do, teachers are still underrated so take this as a reminder to tell a teacher you appreciate them. I know I will.

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