I’ve had this blog on my mind for many months now. I could never figure out the right time to share it or had the emotions to sit down and write. I guess you could say I had a bit of writers’ block. Maybe it was because it’s a topic so near and dear to my heart that I want it to be so perfect.

But, when I woke up this morning to a notification on my phone that my fifth-grade teacher had tagged me in a Facebook post, I couldn’t have asked for a better sign or source of inspiration to sit down and put these words on a page.

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The Facebook post that was the final reminder to share this blog.

A few months ago, I submitted my last assignment in school and, as far as I’m concerned, received a grade from a teacher for the very last time. Afterward, I couldn’t help but think back to all the teachers that have made a lasting impact on my life. The teachers that taught me far more than the goals outlined in their lesson plans. The teachers that reached me and saw more than just a student trying to learn English, Math, Science or History. To the teachers who taught me how to better succeed on the hardest test called life. With many thanks to them, I learned valuable lessons that shaped me to where I am today. I’m not sure I can truly thank them for how they inspired and motivated me to be a better student, a better athlete, and a better person. To pay it forward, I wanted to share with you the lessons that I have carried with me to this day.

In 4th grade, Mrs. Duffy taught me the importance of having empathy. I’ll never forget watching her read, Walk to Remember, and in the final pages seeing a tear roll down her face. For the first time, I realized to treat everyone with a full heart because you never know what someone is going through. She lived that every day in her teaching, and I’m grateful I was able to learn from example.

In 5th grade, Mr. Serpico taught me to be my own person. In my elementary years, all my friends were boys. I was a huge tomboy and chose to play tag football at recess instead of gossip with the girls. Mr. Serpico made me feel like that was the cool thing to do. He embraced the sporty part of me and constantly encouraged me to pursue my dreams. A few years back, I visited his classroom and saw a wall of all the articles written about me. I realized in that moment how special it is to have people that see what’s in you before you see it in yourself.

In 8th grade, Mrs. Raines taught me that teaching lasts long after the class period. Hours, months, days, and even years. I learned this early when I looked out at the audience of my Grandpa’s funeral, and there she sat. Almost ten years later, we still talk frequently, and she is undoubtedly one of the biggest mentors in my life. She’s taught me how to reflect, to continue to learn, to inspire others and that at the end of the day, life is a series of choices. That’s probably why every single one of our conversations ends with, make good choices.

In my freshman year of college, John Robinson taught me failure is good. I got a 15 percent on his first assignment, and it was the lowest grade I’ve ever received. It was in the winter, and I remember saying to my friend the temperature is higher than my grade right now. It was only 54 degrees outside. I lost 50 points for spelling someone’s name wrong TWICE. And what did that teach me? People are most important.

In my senior year of college, Gary Kayye taught me the value of living a life of purpose. Gary is the reason my blog exists. He’s taught me to dig deep to find out what sparks a fire in myself and not to be afraid to share that with the world. The structure of his class illustrated what he believed to be truly important. I always knew he was teaching way more about life than digital media anyway.

To the teachers I’ve listed and to the many others who’ve touched me along the way… thank you for providing me with many valuable sticky notes for the text book of life.