Recently, I had the distinct and prestigious honor of being inducted into the Hall of Excellence at my high school, The Mary Louis Academy. The experience was full circle, emotional and meant even more to me than I thought possible. It reminded me of the power teachers have to impact our everyday lives. It reminded me that schools are magical places where we first imagine our future, unlock our potential and learn to dream.
On World Teachers’ Day, I am reminded of the teachers who represented all of that for me.
Kieran Larkin and Stephanie Sands were two of my teachers and my everything at Mary Louis. Mr. Larkin taught me to fly; I attribute every wonderful thing that happened to me within those four years of high school to him. He was my Theology teacher and Speech coach. In his way, he taught me to wonder, to question and always trust my talents and gifts. Ms. Sands was my music teacher. She taught me to play the clarinet, marveled at my singing vibrato and made me a soloist in our Spring concert. I thought she was one of the most beautiful, kindest and funniest people I had ever met. When the two of them fell in love and got married, I was convinced (still am) that I had manifested it somehow. Through their eyes, I saw myself: powerful, invincible and able to achieve everything possible.
Across the globe, every day, teachers aren’t just building fundamental literacy and numeracy skills of children — they are helping children understand themselves and the world. Teachers shape the character of young people and impact the outcomes of entire communities. They facilitate lessons of health and wellness. Teachers foster a sense of peace, stability and self-esteem. For many of us, teachers were the first to really see us and our potential. They believed in our power. We can attribute much of who we are now, to who they were then.
My teachers curated a sense of freedom in me to fearlessly explore my gifts. They championed and nurtured me unconditionally. They taught me to persevere and remain steadfast in spite of obstacles and difficulties.
As a result, I was inspired to help create a world without fear and without limits. A world with no barriers, a world that empowers each of us to fully explore our gifts. A world where even the most marginalized among us have the opportunity to self-actualize.
Thank you Kieran and Stephanie Sands-Larkin. Thank you to the teachers who work with Pencils of Promise. And on World Teachers’ Day and everyday, thank you to educators everywhere — the facilitators of dreams.