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To All the Teachers in My Life: Thank You

Katie Novak
Katie Novak
May 2, 2021

As the daughter of two teachers, my life, from my first breath, was impacted by educators. Now, as I look back, I realize that many of the people who truly mattered to me stood at the front of classrooms.

I am thankful for Mrs. Paris, my kindergarten teacher. We had many opportunities to go to the bathroom throughout the day, but I was scared I would miss the bus so I didn’t go. Finally, I couldn’t hold it any longer and I peed in my pants. What could have been traumatizing was not. She took me aside, handed me a different pair of pants and then let me sit on her lap for the afternoon as she read a story. I still remember playing with her charm bracelet. At the end of the day, she walked me onto the bus herself.

For Mrs. Kellogg, my third grade teacher. She had a daughter named Katie and it made me feel like a celebrity. One day, someone brought her young daughter to school. I was already on the bus so she ran onto the bus and asked for me to come off a minute so she could introduce me to “her Katie.” She took the time to find me and I am still grateful to this day that she thought of me.

For Mrs. Ryan, who I had for homeroom in middle school. I was elected as homeroom rep for student council. At the end of the year, to thank me, she bought me a pair of blue and white striped denim shorts and a navy blue tank top. I could not believe that I received a gift! From a teacher!

For Mr. Mooney, who was my PE teacher from Grade 5 to Grade 12, who told me I was a “bull” and could accomplish anything I wanted if I put my mind to it.  I am still running, Mr. Mooney!

And for Mrs. Kraus, who changed my life. My senior year, she took me aside and told me I was capable of so much more. She changed my schedule so I was in the honors classes and gave up her lunch period to ensure I transitioned okay. She believed I was capable of so much more. She was right.

In college, I took creative writing with Clark Knowles. He allowed us to choose the music that would play at the beginning of class, as we journaled about prompts, selected by classmates. He created a classroom community where we shared our hearts, our dreams, and our selves. His ability to create a safe place, for a diverse group of students to speak their truth, made me want to be an educator. 

For Mrs. Barron, who was my lead teacher when I student-taught at Fountain Valley High School and paved a road for me to engage thousands of students by following her example. 

For the amazing educators who teach my children. Thank you for seeing them as I see them. Thank you for providing them with the options and choices they need so they can access grade-level rigor, the highest of expectations, and hope. If ethics laws didn’t prevent me from showering you with gifts, I would buy you all unicorns!

And of course, for Mom and Dad, who always came home with smiles on their faces and stories about “their kids” and their colleagues. I saw the love and respect and the power of their craft, and I wanted to be a part of that.

Because I am thankful for teachers, I teach them. I believe in the power of teaching and teachers deserve a champion. But my job will never compare to theirs, and for that, I am forever grateful.

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