Where would any of us be without our teachers? A relationship with a good teacher, whether through school, work, or another form of mentorship, is a true gift in this life. The amount of work that goes into their jobs, in and out of the classroom, is impossible to measure, and much of it is invisible to onlookers and goes unappreciated. So for #BacktoSchool month, the SIOSisters would like to voice our gratitude and respect for some of the teachers who got us here today.
Strong Teachers We Have Loved
One of my favorite teachers I ever had was Mr. Dan Ruckman, my high school band director. Music has (and always will be) an important force in my life, and during those four years of high school I found the majority of my time spent in the band room. His class taught me leadership, responsibility, the importance of working together, and the value of practice and repetition. Being part of a band is an incredible group effort, and the teamwork between the students and director is very important. I’ve been lucky enough to continue that relationship, and still today enjoy running into Mr. Ruckman and catching up on all the happenings at CHS.
I realize now the infinite level of patience Mr. Ruckman possesses working with eight grades of kids, in seven different bands. It takes a special type of teacher to deal with that many students, and not lose your mind. So if you’re reading this, Mr. R, thanks for being such an incredible mentor, director, and basically just a fantastic person. You rock!
I met Gina at YogahOMe several years ago. She was my first yoga teacher. I was nervous to try a vinyasa class, but I felt comfortable with Gina from the first time I met her. She has a no-nonsense approach to teaching and I was surprised by how her words allowed me to push myself but also feel safe doing it. She introduced me the concept of being present. I had such a strong reaction to the practice that I couldn’t wait to go back.
Yoga is such an important part of my life now, and I attribute a lot of that to Gina’s guidance on and off the mat. Gina now co-owns Simply Power Yoga. The last year of my life has been extremely challenging and SPY has been my ‘go to’ place when I need to decompress and breathe. I’m so glad that after all these years, Gina is still in my life 🙂
In about the third grade, I started playing soccer on a semi-competitive team for a coach named Ken, whose daughter was also on the team. I had always been athletic and enjoyed sports, but I was an anxious child. For some background, during this time my parents had divorced about three years earlier, and my siblings were each going through some struggles of their own. Soccer practice was my escape, and yet my anxiety also sometimes translated into timidity and fearfulness on the field. In fact, I remember a particular game in which I hid in the bushes to avoid having to go out and play!
I played for Ken for many years, and he never gave up on me. In fact, the behavior that he modeled – sticking with coaching a timid, anxious young girl – was exactly what he always told me to remember: “Never Give Up.” Three words, a simplistic phrase, became one of the most influential things anyone has ever said to me. In the years since, I hung up the soccer cleats, but eventually made it to play NCAA college volleyball. Weekly, I lead fitness classes with a strong, confident voice. I managed to graduate from college and earn a graduate degree – all because Ken told me to “never give up.”
I’ve always had a special bond with my teachers, probably because I loved school. There are a number of teachers that had a huge impact on my life but the one that I remember the most is my 9th grade English teacher. From an early age I loved reading and spent most of my extra time reading. I was fascinated with the imagery and language my favorite authors used in their stories but never believed that I could be that creative. But that year in class my teacher pushed us to explore our own voices and encouraged us to create our own stories. Instead of just discussing the characters and plots of the books we were assigned, all of our activities and assignments centered around being creative in some way. Whether it was writing poetry, short stories or creating a piece of art, she wanted us to think outside of the box. It was because of her that my love of literature and writing began to flourish.
Even at a young age I understood that being a writer was not exactly a promise of financial success and a comfortable life, and I might have been discouraged from pursuing it had many of my teachers not urged me to keep writing and hone my skills.
If I have to pick one that was most memorable and influential, I would have to say it was Brady Allen. At the end of his Introduction to Short Story class in college, he pulled me aside and said that with a little polishing, the story I submitted was ready to be published. Until he told me that, I thought being a published author was a pipe dream at best, like being a movie star. By affirming the worthiness of my words, Brady helped me believe my dream was within reach. I still keep in touch with him on Facebook and draw inspiration and encouragement from his posts on writing and teaching. I haven’t published any fiction yet, but I’m making it a goal to do so before I turn 30 (in two years), and meanwhile I am indeed making a living as a freelance writer and writing coach/teacher.
We can’t say it enough: THANK YOU to all the passionate, dedicated, butt-kicking teachers out there in the world. You really make a difference!