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The Difference a Good Teacher Makes

Title – The Difference a Good Teacher Makes
By – Carolyn Hopkins

I have been teaching for four years now. I am a tenth-grade English teacher. Needless to say, I love my subject and vowed to one day impart my love of literature to my future students. Well, I must admit, I have made more than a difference, I have changed the way students perceive literature and have even inspired some to become English teachers.

I have received countless thank-you cards, gifts, letters and certificates in appreciation for my time and effort and I hope compassion. If I could pick one or two students with whom I have come to love as my own, that would be difficult. There have been several students each year who stand out and a lasting bond between us is formed.

One student in particular, however, is named John Doe. I met him last year when he was a student in my English class during eighth period. He has expressive brown eyes that light up his face. He sat in the back often, saying very little. However, I sensed that he was taking in all that I taught. John was never absent nor was he late. He was a mild mannered student who seemed very mature for his age.

As the year progressed, we read lots of poetry and various stories about different cultures and real-life experiences. I have always wanted literature to speak to my students so that they could find relevant connections which would ultimately give them that motivation to read, write and interpret. While reading and writing poetry, John had written some beautiful poetry that spoke of his experiences as a black male in America. I was delighted and surprised that he could write poetry so well. Of course, there was some editing to be done, but he was inspired and encouraged to write about what mattered to him.

On the last day of school, students were asked to write a brief autobiographical essay and to dedicate it to someone he or she thought was significant in his or her life.

Needless to say, John dedicated his essay to me and used clip art that decorated the dedication with roses.

He stated in the essay that “some people you meet in life are flowers, but then there are those who are roses. Ms. Hopkins, I just wanted you to know that you are a rose in my life and I have enjoyed every minute of being in your class. If you thought that sometimes I had zoned out, well, you were wrong. I would never zone out on a teacher such as you. You have shown me that I have purpose in life and that I am a poet. I will never forget you.” Needless to say, tears streamed down my eyes and eyeliner was everywhere. But John’s words touched me in such a profound and emotional way. I had had a particularly hard personal life that year and somehow that letter made it worth the struggle.

I needed to hear those words and I told John that his words were nourishment for a very fragile and weary soul.

Now, I see John probably twice or sometimes three times a week. He visits as much as possible and tells me how much he misses my classroom and my superb ability to teach from a real-life perspective. Making a significant contribution to someone’s life is something money could never buy. Teaching allows teachers to make a positive difference in the life of someone. Thank you God for allowing me to teach.

E-Mail Carolyn Hopkins!

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