Most women can remember their high school years being full of good times with best friends, crushes on boys, and the occasional heartbreak when something didn’t go exactly as planned. I know all of these memories resonate for me. I also remember being disrespectful to my mother and feeling life just wasn’t fair. I’d pour my heart out in my “locked” diary, (that my older sister could break open in an instant, and routinely did) and felt no one in the world could possibly understand what I was going through.
That is when my English teacher, Judy Uhlir, came to my rescue. She was a petite woman with strawberry-blonde hair and the sweetest smile. She recognized that I liked writing and encouraged me to continue and hone the craft. At the end of the year, she actually had a booklet of my poems and essays bound together as a gift for me. I know she did not do this for the other students in the class, and I felt special.
I went on to get a Bachelor’s degree in English and a Master’s degree in publishing and writing, always understanding that without Ms. Uhlir’s encouragement, I may never have continued with my education. She will always have a special place in my heart. We have corresponded over the years, and our appreciation for each other is mutual!
During Teacher Appreciation Week this year, I’d like to encourage everyone to think back to a special teacher who went above and beyond. Reach out. Say thank you. I know they will love hearing from you!
Lisa Petty, Editor
Equal Opportunity Employment Journal