Opinion: Teachers change my life


I pose for a photo with my two humanities teachers Kelley Ferguson and Cassie Madewell on the last day of my freshman year of high school. Over the course of the school year, they went from strangers to two people who heavily impacted my life.

I ran from the band hall to my second period class, hoping to not be late on the first day. I had no idea that the class on my schedule I feared the most would become a home away from home. 

The only reason I took humanities my freshman year was because my aunt told me it was a better option than taking AP human geography and honors English separately, and though that was my initial reason for taking it, the reason I ended up loving the class wasn’t anywhere close to that. 

My freshman year of high school was my first “normal” year after COVID-19. The previous year was full of loss for me and became one of the most challenging years of my life, so coming back to school was difficult. On top of that, as the introverted person I am, I didn’t really expect myself to open up to anyone or let people in, but as the year went on, that began to change. 

Throughout my life, I always thought teachers were just people in our lives with one purpose and one purpose only – teaching us whatever academic subject they specialized in. Though when I started my freshman year of high school, my humanities teachers proved me wrong. 

In the heat of marching band season and with a hard month of my life approaching, I found myself talking to Ferguson and Madewell about my personal life – especially the last year of it – because a friend of mine encouraged me to. They supported me and gave me advice, regardless of how bizarre the situation I told them about was. They even encouraged me to take care of myself – and they made sure I did – while also making sure I knew how proud they were of me. 

I found comfort in their support and, because of them, I was able to take care of myself better throughout one of the most difficult times of my life. Having to mature at a young age and deal with the loss my family had to deal with was definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever been through, but their support made it worth it in a way. It gave me a drive to be better for the people around me – they gave me a reason.

They took the time to understand me to the point where they knew what to say and what I needed to hear when I was having the worst day. I’m more than just a name connected to a school ID number that they happen to teach and grade things for. I’m more than just a student in their class. I’m a human. 

They treat their students like their kids; like human-beings and not just teenagers hard-wired to show up to school and expected to do well, despite what else is going on in their life. They don’t just show up to teach – they show up all the time. 

Teachers show up to support their kids, to be there for their kids and even fight for their kids. When they found out that I was put in a tough situation where I had to do physical activities while fasting for Ramadan, they immediately tried to see what they could do to make sure that didn’t happen again.

Though I only had them my freshman year as teachers, even now as a sophomore, I talk to them all the time and they always know what’s going on in my life because they care. Regardless of what it is I need help on, I know I can count on them and they’re always there to provide support and advice.  

I spent 14 years of my life thinking teachers were just meant to teach things that revolved around academics, but it wasn’t until I met my two humanities teachers that I realized teachers have the opportunity to change lives every day. They helped me get through a tough year, and I wasn’t even the only one they helped. With over 200 students every year, they find a way to connect with each one and truly get to know them. 

I believe that it is so important to identify that teachers do more than teach us how to write an argumentative essay or the importance of the demographic transition model, and I know I’m not the only one who can confidently say that.