This week is National Teacher Appreciation Week, and Tuesday marks Thank A Teacher Day. It’s a time to reflect on our educators and give thanks. We all had that one teacher that made a profound difference in our life (and if you didn’t – I’m sorry that you were unable to experience this). This week show your gratitude and say thanks.

Thank You to a Special Teacher

When I was in 5th grade, I had a difficult time reading. The only books I was exposed to were the books handed out in class. They often had a collection of stories and writing exercises in them and each grade was a different color. Generic stories like Timmy’s baseball game, or Ann walking her puppy. There wasn’t much conflict or diverse dialog. Of course, I wasn’t critical of those things at that time. I just knew the stories didn’t interest me. Therefore, I hated reading.

My teacher that year was Mrs. McManus. She was a grandmotherly sort of with gray salt and pepper hair (which would have been totally on point today) and spoke about books and reading with passion and excitement. Mrs. McManus was so focused on her task of teaching, she often forgot about her previous lesson’s chalk notes on the board, accidentally wiping the chalkboard clean with her bum. She pushed me to find an author I enjoyed. Since I didn’t know any, she encouraged me to stroll the Young Adult section at the bookstore. I did. Just before winter recess, I discovered Christopher Pike’s Whisper of Death.

That same year my sister and I received our first Nintendo system (our family couldn’t afford one when they first came out). My mom set it up in my bedroom on a rolling TV stand. And the TV was second-hand, black-and-white. My sister was in her glory playing while I read. During winter recess, I finished Whisper of Death and started my second Christopher Pike book, Chain Letter. I was hooked on reading.

I had Mrs. McManus to thank for my newfound love. She approached my reading difficulty with an unconventional solution. Reading something I enjoyed, that I couldn’t put down, strengthened my skills. It helped me build confidence in my reading. And I no longer thought I was never going to read well or hate reading forever. She was one of the most inspiring, kind, and encouraging teachers I’ve met through my education journey. So, Mrs. McManus, if you happen to read this, THANK YOU!