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English Teachers, Thank You

No matter what, I know that they will be here for me.

I’m an English geek. I find grammar worksheets (almost) fun. Well, its not that I wouldn’t rather be catching up on Say Yes to The Dress episodes, but I guess analyzing The Tempest and proving Miranda and Ferdinand’s love is somewhat intriguing to me.

Maybe it’s not necessarily that pronouns and antecedents are overwhelmingly fascinating, but the fact that at my time at Sequoia High School I have been given two amazing teachers that have made even Dickens and Homer fun.

Freshman year, I had English third period. I had never heard of the teacher on my schedule and all my friends were in a different class. When I walked into the room; however, a smiling Stanford graduate greeted us. I knew immediately that I wanted Ms. K to be my friend, as did every other one of her 100 plus students. She was sweet and kind.

Forget your lunch at home? Ms. K made sure you had something to eat. Don’t understand how to format your idea into a proper thesis?  Ms. K’s door was always open for help. The word quickly spread around campus and anyone who didn’t have her for a teacher, wanted her.

What set her apart from the other teachers wasn’t that she was necessarily better at editing essays or explaining an intro paragraph, but the fact that she treated everyone with the respect and equality that teenagers long for. She didn’t see us as troublemakers, but as young adults with dreams of going to college and being professional athletes, fashion designers, and authors. We all knew that no matter what, she would always be there to mentor us and advise us on things that were going on not just in class, but at home and in the rest of our lives as well.

I was devastated when June came. No one could ever replace Ms. K, and I was scared of how anyone else could ever teach me complex and simple sentences. Three months passed, and when I got my schedule on the first day of sophomore year, I saw that I had first period English.

Ms. C terrified me. When she told me that I would have something like two hours of homework for her class I might have actually trembled. Our class was silent and I knew that this year was going to be hard. I was determined to get an A.

First quiz came and I didn’t do too well. My grade tanked. My mission for her to know that I was a serious student was failing. I needed to step up my game.

I learned more in that class the first week than all my other classes combined. She pushes us, but in a good way. My writing had improved dramatically and her feedback is always highly constructive. My grade steadily improved and I ended up getting what I wanted. When I looked at my transcript, there was no other class that I was prouder of my accomplishments in. She gave me the drive to do well.

I may not have seen it the first day, but I know now that she really cares about us as people. She wants us to succeed and that is why she is hard on us. We can talk to her like we talk to our peers. She understands. She will ask us why we didn’t complete an assignment, and we don’t have to make up a story. We can just tell her the truth. She helps us, jokes around with us, and laughs with us.

Every day I will walk in at 8:28, and I know that she’ll be drinking her same protein powder smoothie.

Every day I walk by Ms. K’s room and wave hello. She will give me a hug and then we will both carry on with our day.

Every day when I walk onto campus, I have people that I can count on, that I know want me to succeed, and that will be there no matter what. Ms. K and Ms. C are just two examples.

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Sharon Levin February 20, 2012 at 06:28 PM
Sigh. Please don't use Laurel's well written and wonderful essay to campaign against funding our public schools. Money IS an issue and you can see that by the difference in what is offered at schools that have parents with deeper pockets than those who have parents who cannot afford to donate cash to their schools. My girls had GREAT teachers in the RCSD schools and some crappy ones, which is the same story I hear from friends who go to private schools. And, believe me, the union does not allow the district to simply get rid of 'too expensive' teachers. My girls are now at Sequoia and one has Laurel's Ms. K and the other had Laurel's Ms. C and they are FANTASTIC teachers! I spend a lot of time at the school and what I admire from the administrators and the teachers is their true concern for the students and passion about teaching. Sequoia is just now getting hit by severe budget cuts (we lost a wonderful vice-principal) and, we, as citizens, need to make sure the funds are there for ALL students, K-12.
Lou Covey, The Local Motive February 20, 2012 at 07:52 PM
Judi, the AMOUNT of money may not be the problem, but WHERE the money goes is. Right now, the Woodside district, with one school, spends $11,000 per student. but Redwood City can spend less than $6,000 per student because of revenue restrictions. What's the difference? A parcel tax. Redwood City is the only district without one on the Peninsula. Other communities have stepped up. We haven't. We can complain all we want about the state and national situation, but the local situation is still in our control, and we just aren't taking our responsibility seriously.
Noah Dearborn February 22, 2012 at 12:10 AM
That was so sweet... love the article... your bro thinks you are the best!!!!! ;-)
Juan Lopez February 22, 2012 at 12:16 AM
That was incredible! I thank you for that breath of fresh air... Amazing!
Georgia Jack February 22, 2012 at 03:14 AM
Judi: My daughter also recently wrote about teachers in RCSD and SUHSD. And the current union president wrote his appreciative words on that post. Our students and parents do recognize that we have some amazing teachers -- keep reading. Surely it will be clear to you that all we really want to do is ensure that ALL students have these choices too.

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