Tuesday, May 7, 2013

An Open Letter to My Teacher

There are so many...I can’t fathom where to start and my heart has so much to say. From Mrs. Smith who taught me how to write my letters in kindergarten to Mrs. Parten who allowed our class to belt out “She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain” every other week. Then, there was Mrs. Overstreet who taught me what it meant to recycle and how to write a paper. Mrs. Sims and Mrs. Adams who pushed me to excel when I thought I didn’t measure up.

But, when I think of teachers who impacted my formative years, one woman had an impact on me that I shall never forget. And this is an open letter to her:

Dear Mrs. Kimbrough,

It’s Teacher Appreciation Week and if I had high school to live all over again, I would do it because of you. I would endure those awkward years of school and painful times in my family just to be back in your class.

Literature was never my greatest love, but it quickly rose to the first class status because of your love for the subject. You made books come alive for me for the first time in my life. I got lost in them because you expected me to...you wanted me to...you encouraged me to....you passed your love along to me and my classmates.

More importantly, you saw me as a person and not just a teenager. I have no idea if you knew what my home life was like...with a mother who was in and out of mental institutions...but you always seemed to care. You showed me daily that I was important and I could do more...be more. And, I believed you.

You made us write...a lot, as I recall. Book reviews, fictional pieces, essays, and even research papers. I never enjoyed writing until you gave me a reason to. It was the little notes on top of each paper that prodded me on...encouragement for what I did well and correction for what I could do better. I even recall my favorite, “You want to be a doctor? What a waste! The world will NEVER know how well you write. Please reconsider!” I read that note and floated on cloud nine for weeks. You believed in me. And I needed that.

Sure, it took you extra time to write on my papers, but you did it. Every time. You drew smiley faces and told me “Great Job” or “Well done” or “I can’t wait to read what you write next!” I remember EVERY SINGLE WORD. Because, you wrote them...TO ME. And, that made a difference in my life.

God used you in ways you may never know to rescue this young girl from a world of uncertainty and chaos. You gave me a safe place to express myself while teaching me how to harness that passion.

Mrs. Kimbrough, I salute you and thank you from the bottom of my heart. You taught me well, and I am forever grateful. Job well done, Mrs. Kimbrough. Well done indeed.

Sheryl Graves Turner, Class of 1988

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