This I Believe

Melanie - Saint Charles, Missouri
Entered on October 26, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

“To Teach is to Touch Lives Forever”

“Why did you become a Spanish teacher, Miss Paula?” “Because I love Spanish and my high school Spanish teacher was my role model in life.” I cannot help but smile at her response. ‘If only you knew. . .’ I silently meditate, wanting desperately to spill the beans, ‘that someday I’ll be in your place giving the same answer to a similar question.’ But I remain silent, reflecting on all that Miss Paula has done, knowing the time is not right to thank her for passing the torch to me by imparting her love of the Spanish language and inspiring me to follow in her footsteps.

Miss Paula was my teacher for Spanish 2, and I liked her because she made learning fun. And that was it. . . until the September afternoon of my junior year when I sat across the desk from her asking for assistance – that’s when this story really begins. I had realized during the first week of school that Honors Spanish 3 would be no picnic – I just couldn’t learn the way my teacher taught and I helplessly watched my love of Spanish slipping through my fingers. I found myself in Miss Paula’s room that day after school explaining my situation. She happily took me under her wing.

In the following months, I basically lived in Miss Paula’s room. I audited her classes, where I couldn’t stop smiling because it felt wonderful to be learning the material I’d been missing. I frequented her open labs, where she made me feel special by teaching me extra Spanish concepts simply because she recognized my hunger for knowledge. I visited her after school, where she made time to chat with me over Smartie’s candy. Those hours spent in Miss Paula’s room were precious moments of illumination – with her encouragement, I rediscovered my passion for Spanish.

As Miss Paula and I became closer, we shared parts of our lives with each other and she became a role model for me. In the time I spent talking with her and learning from her, Miss Paula taught me much more than how to conjugate Spanish verbs or where to place accents; she also taught me about life. I learned how to truly care about others by watching the way Miss Paula cared about me – teaching me although I was no longer her student, wanting to help if things were not going well, smiling her luminous smile. During a difficult year, knowing that someone genuinely cared gave me a reason to get out of bed each morning and face the day.

Miss Paula demonstrated in a real way that teachers touch lives forever. By so doing, she inspired me to follow in her footsteps and become a Spanish teacher so that one day I can hopefully have the same impact on future students that she had on me. I want to be the one teaching them, helping them, inspiring them, and caring about them.

Miss Paula moved to Spain after that wonderful year. Yet I’ll never forget the lessons she taught me, how she passed the torch of loving Spanish and of teaching to me, which it will one day be my duty to pass on. Most importantly, I will always believe that “to teach is to touch lives forever.”