Thankful for Teachers

Perhaps it was the collection of Beatles and Albert Einstein posters. Maybe it was the two couches that lined the perimeter of the room. Or it could have been the massive pile of newspapers in the corner. Whatever it was, I knew that this mysterious place wasn’t just an area where I would learn about the inverted pyramid or discover how to write the perfect caption. No, this room was much more. This was the place where I would watch my dreams develop. The place where I would let my creativity run wild. The place where I would meet the person who impacted my life in so many different ways.

Although I may have just described a typical college dorm room, the place I was referring to was my high school journalism classroom. I signed up for this class during my freshman year in high school, unsure of what to expect. I knew that I loved to write and I had always been interested in the mechanics behind newspapers and magazines, so I decided to take the class out of curiosity. As the school year progressed, I began to fall in love with it. Sure, it helped that I enjoyed analyzing news stories or thought it was fun to produce a mock news broadcast, but the person who made the experience even better was my teacher, Ms. White.

That year, I learned so much about journalism that it instantly piqued my interest in the subject and inspired me to join the school newspaper staff the following year. I had such a good experience while on the staff that I decided to remain there for the rest of my high school career.

During that time, I didn’t just improve my writing or learn how to arrange articles and pictures to achieve the most appealing layout. The life lessons I gained from the class setting and my teacher far surpassed the requirements of the curriculum.

Of the many lessons I took away from my high school newspaper experience, learning how to be open-minded was perhaps the most important lesson I could have gained. Although there was never an official lesson plan designed to teach these traits, it was hard not to acquire this mindset after Ms. White continually told us that there are never just two sides to a story. This advice was often conveyed to the staff to prevent us from having such a black-and-white view of the world, which wouldn’t translate well into writing stories.

Being able to have this mindset not only helped me analyze other perspectives when writing stories, it also became a part of my everyday life. I’ve become more open to issues, realizing that I must look beyond the two main surface beliefs and be open to seeing entirely new perspectives. Even though I had always considered myself to be a pretty open-minded and tolerant person, Ms. White helped expand my mind even more.

Aside from enriching my life with interesting ideas and perspectives, Ms. White also played a big role in influencing my career. Through her passion and dedication to the subject, I realized that I wanted to pursue a career in writing. Even though I had always had a sort of innate desire to be a writer, without her perfect combination of criticism and praise of my work, who knows if I would currently be pursuing a literary journalism degree here at UC Irvine.

Although my education and experience at UCI is young, since I am still a freshman, I know that this transition from high school to college would have been so much more difficult if I hadn’t had Ms. White’s encouragement. I am so grateful to have met a person who not only influenced my future, but inspired me as well.

So often in life, we can get in the habit of viewing our teachers as lifeless beings who are only capable of lecturing and administering tests. But what would happen if we started to look at them beyond those qualities and instead thought about how much they could enrich our lives? It doesn’t hurt to believe that teachers can make an impact in one way or another. Be open to new thoughts or perspectives. That attitude may just allow a person to make a difference in ways you might never expect.