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Teachers provide the foundation for achieving life’s goals

Posted: January 26, 2012 1:52 p.m.
Updated: January 30, 2012 5:00 a.m.

The dictionary defines influence as “the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone.” Influence is a simple word also defined by our personal interpretations of how a person makes us feel. A feeling that can leave us changed forever. An influence may be found in the way a person helps mold our career plans or our daily conduct. It’s a lasting impact that moves us from point A in our life, to point B. We begin as someone completely different from the individual we turn out to be on the other side. High school is the four tedious years where we are suppose to map out the next 30 years of our life as change physically and emotionally. Having a positive influence during those tumultuous years is vital in our individual journey into adulthood, and luckily, many high school students are blessed with encountering teachers who are these positive influences in their life. High school students that were once children in elementary and middle school were also touched by other teachers during their journey of 12 years along the academic ladder.

Teachers are the very ones who are often placed last on the priority list within society and when people pull out the calculator to deal with the ever dreaded budget. The question that stirs within my mind and the mind of the many hardworking educators around the country is: why? Do people not understand that teachers are one of the steps in building a great adult?

Teachers begin with our parents. They provide us with the beginning steps to learn values and morals; they plant dreams in our heads and nurture those dreams to grow into beautiful realities as we become young adults and make our place in the world.

Other teachers that continue to be guides along the path of life are those we encounter in the classroom. In elementary school we meet teachers who instruct us in the basics of academics and shower us with love. As we enjoy recess and learning how to multiply, they then begin adding bricks to the foundation of striving for scholastic success that first began in the original teachers of our parents. I remember teachers who still hold a dear place in my heart because of how they showed they cared with smiles and hugs that made a young child feel cherished. During the awkward years of middle school, we have teachers who help us through the “in between stage” of child and teenager through Pre-Algebra and refereeing the drama that always was “the end of the world.” I had wonderful teachers who guided me with advice as I tried to figure out who I was and also continued to direct my educational career.

Then we enter the dreaded years of high school where we cannot wait to leave, but would never give up those four years for anything. Here is where we truly conquer the questions of who we are and where we want to go in life. We find encouragement at home as we get ready to leave the nest and we find encouragement in the classroom as well as teachers help map out where we go next academically. These teachers can help us continue to achieve those dreams we’ve been growing since childhood. I’ve encountered a teacher in my high school career who introduced me to the art of journalism which has become my passion. Through stern guidance, she instilled in me a sense of getting the truth, and not being afraid to go digging for it. She was one of many teachers who supported me along the way through the winding journey of school, rooted in my parents and others who were placed by God as blessings along the way. Each person, even if it was only for a year, were footprints in our hearts that left impressions we never forget.

Yet, isn’t that what a true teacher is supposed to be? Someone who isn’t only there to educate the minds of students, but also to encourage them in their personal growth, to mold the type of adult they will be one day. Let’s appreciate them, not take them for granted. Let’s uplift them, not criticize them. No adult would be where they are today, without the teachers who guided them along the way.

(Rebecca Rowell is a contributing columnist for the C-I from Lugoff-Elgin High School and can be reached at


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