Teachers and Teaching

Mercedes Schneider: A Tribute to Teachers Everywhere

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  1. Mercedes Schneider left a professorial job to teach high school English in her native Louisiana. She is proud to be a teacher.


Here she writes a New Years greeting to all teachers as a tribute to them.


Teachers change lives, one at a time. Not for money, God knows, but for love.


She begins like this:


“On this eve of a new year, let us celebrate by taking a moment to remember a favorite teacher, one who inspired us, or challenged us– and one who was not necessarily held high in our estimation until we matured enough to appreciate his/her efforts on our behalf.


“In this spirit, I feature a few open letters of appreciation to teachers.


“The first is by Taylor Elliot and was posted March 22, 2016, on Fresh U:


“An Open Letter to My High School English Teacher


“I would never have read Catcher in the Rye if it weren’t for your class. I would have never learned that it is okay to question things had it not been for your class. I would have never fallen so madly in love with writing had it not been for your class. I would have not have done a lot of things had it not been for your class. Everyone has their favorite teacher from high school, and everyone could probably spend hours talking about how amazing they were and all the small trinkets of advice they received from said teacher. What is particularly uncommon is when the teacher that tops your list of favorites falls a little lower on other people’s.


“This is my letter to you, the teacher who inspired me to major in journalism.


“To my favorite teacher,


“I would have to say that after everything, I don’t think I have had the chance to properly thank you for your influence on me in high school, and ultimately on my college major. So please, if you are reading this, thank you. I can remember going into your English Literature class my junior year being extremely nervous due to everyone’s warnings about you being strict and quite frankly, a little scary. What I didn’t know was that by the end of the school year I would be walking out of your classroom learning so much and wishing I could take your class again. The first paper I wrote for your class was an absolute disaster. The prompt confused me, I wasn’t too sure of my thesis, and to top it off I used the word ‘you’ and with that you immediately took points off my paper. I don’t remember my exact grade for this first assignment, but I do remember thinking that this class was going to be such a pain. Everything changed when one day I decided to stay after school and ask you what I was doing wrong in my writing. This meeting, and countless others, led to be learning how to write and ultimately, how much I loved writing. For a year all I did was read novels and write essays on them. I never thought that out of this I would find my future college major.


“You taught me to write my introduction last which sounded crazy to me at the time, but now makes complete sense. When I first start writing, I am usually so excited that my first paragraph is a jumble of words that is all over the place, but by the end my thoughts are planned out and organized. To this day, even though my writing skills have improved I still write most, if not all, of my introductions last because of a habit I learned from you. Honestly, there is a 90% chance that the intro for this article was written last. In your class I learned to never question or second-guess what I was writing about. You told me that if I could prove my point with evidence, then it was worth writing about. With this being said, I learned how to efficiently get my point across with words. Words can have different meanings or connotations and how I arrange those words affects the message I am trying to get across. I have learned the importance of this idea more since becoming a journalism major. Everything you have taught me about writing has overflown into my journalism classes.


“Lastly, it is because of you that I fell in love with writing and ultimately decided to major in journalism. Over the course of one school year, I learned so much from you. Writing doesn’t have to be a hassle; in fact it can be very fun and rewarding. Evidence is the best way to tell the truth through writing. When writing a story, or trying to get a point across, there is no stronger proof than hard evidence; this lesson has helped me greatly in my journalism endeavors so far. You helped me build a strong foundation of fundamentals when it comes to my writing. I attribute my writing style to your class. In my articles, I look to tell a story using language, words, and evidence as devices to shine light on the truth I am trying to portray through the story. Without your class, I highly doubt that I would be majoring in journalism, I wouldn’t be writing this article if it weren’t for your class.


“Thank you.


“There is so much to thank you for, but I hope this article pinpoints the major lessons I took from your class and applied to my college life and future career path. I also hope this inspires students to look to their teachers for inspiration. There are talented teachers around you who will influence you in one way or another and you never know, one of them may just help you decide what you want to do with the rest of your life.”



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