Most of us can name at least one teacher who has changed the course of our life. Some teachers impart a deep love for learning, some share valuable wisdom, while others inspire self-confidence and future direction. I’m sure you are thinking of a few right now.
I can remember distinctly the teachers who had the greatest impact on my life. In elementary school, it was my second-grade teacher who helped me catch up to my peers in reading. In middle school, it was that one coach who continually pushed me on the basketball court. In high school, it was the jazz choir teacher who accepted me because he knew it would crush me if I didn’t make the cut. Each of these individuals inspired me to be like them.
I still laugh with friends when we retell funny stories about what happened in some of our classes and recount the more unique teacher personalities. I had formative, and sometimes, hilarious experiences that shaped my life outlook. The impact on me has been enduring, and the lessons I learned have been invaluable.
It’s not so different for the kids we help in the camps. Here are a few amazing educators who, no doubt, have changed the lives of many:
The greatest gift we can give is helping kids believe in themselves. It’s the gift we want them to carry forever. We build strong relationships with our students and their families showing we care by guaranteeing a safe community space exists for them to thrive. They know they have a place to go with their problems, concerns or even funny stories. Our teachers are there – listening and spending time with anyone who needs them. They show up, they often give above and beyond what seems possible, they challenge and inspire.
So this October 5th, we celebrate World Teacher’s Day and honor some of my favorite people in the world – teachers named and unnamed. Thank you for showing kindness and empathy and for compassionately modelling character with your actions. More importantly, thank you for uncovering those hidden treasures in our kids that line the borderlands.
I like to think that one day in the future, some of these kids from the refugee camps will reunite (just as I do now with some of my friends from school) and reflect on the influential teachers/volunteers who encouraged them. Or maybe they will look back and simply laugh about the entertaining adults and experiences, which kept them going during such trying circumstances. Regardless, here’s to all those who are dedicated to making a positive difference in the lives of students around the world today!