I recently received the sad news that one of my favorite professors had been diagnosed with stage four cancer, and the prognosis wasn’t good. I sat down and wrote him a letter, try to explain the difference he made in my life and thanking him for helping me to become the person and the teacher that I am. After I wrote it, I realized that many of my fellow educators likely have similar stories about someone who helped them on their way. I don’t usually share this sort of thing on social media, but thought it might resonate with some of you, so here it is.
“And now I’m sharing what I’ve learned with another generation. I’m trying to pass on the inspiration that you gave me to my students. These are the ones who walk through the door the first day of class full of apprehension, worried about what they’ve gotten themselves into. It’s not easy to inspire students, to make them want to learn. I’m sure you know that. Each student enters with his or her own history of bad high school science classes, skeptical that this will be any different. But there’s something about the ocean that makes everyone smile. And there’s something about knowing what you love, so that when you talk about it they can see it. Maybe they don’t see why you love science, not at first anyway. But they do see that love. They see that it did something to you, that it changed you for the better and that it’s going to be ok. It’s ok to let what you love change you. It’s okay to follow those passions and to dream about the day when you can experience a world that you’ve only read about, because this person, this teacher, he’s done it. He’s been there and he’s bringing that love back.
You brought it to me. Thank you for that. And I know you brought it to countless others as well.
With deepest regards and wishing you and your family peace, your student,