May 8 is National Teachers Day.
Recently, I’ve reflected a bit on teachers who changed my life. In particular, I decided to reach out and offer my appreciation to one of my retired teachers, Miss Gloria Grant.
No matter what your profession, I’m sure none of us fully appreciate the effect we have on those we help. In 1978, I was damaged goods when I arrived in Miss Grant’s Challand Junior High School language arts classroom.
In the 1970s, the administrators at Unit 5 decided to run an experiment on the working-class kids going to Central Elementary School. The experiment was a “work at your own pace” learning tool called PLAN. As a product of that effort, I believe the experiment was a miserable failure. Kids excelled in subjects they liked and fell behind in areas they found difficult.
By the time I got to Challand and Miss Grant’s classroom, my language arts skills were horrible. If it wasn’t for seventh- and eighth-grade teachers like her and Estelle Metcalf, I’m not sure how I would have ever caught up.
I was a bad speller, and I couldn’t form a proper sentence to save my life. The first time Miss Grant asked me to differentiate between a noun and a verb, I had no answer. Miss Grant volunteered to help me, after school, work to improve my skills.
While at Challand, I had no idea how important writing would become in my life. Today, I can’t imagine how I would have successfully made it through Sterling High School, Northern Illinois University, and my long public service career if teachers like Miss Grant had not been there to offer help.
So, here’s to Gloria Grant, and to other great teachers who go above and beyond every day. Thank you!