One of the items on my 26 by 26 list (for which I have less than a year to complete, as of this writing) is to write thank-yous to my teachers. None ever hid me in a closet and told a crazed gunman I'd gone to the gym, and none used her body to block bullets from hitting us as they whirled through the most unexpected of rooms, the classroom, for which I am eternally grateful, but they are still heroes in their own way, each teaching me to learn, to question, to invent, to write, and to read--and for that, I thank them.
Thank you to the pre-school teacher who let us spend December 6th shoeless, with our tiny sneakers lined up outside the classroom door to receive candy from St. Nick.
Thank you to the Kindergarten teacher who encouraged me to read Hop on Pop to the class, even though it was longer than everyone else's selected books. I've had a thing for thick tomes ever since.
Thank you to the fourth-grade teacher who showed me that it is ok to want to learn more than what is being offered up in class, and that extra math homework is not always a bad thing.
Thank you to the fifth-grade teacher who taught us about attitude, and how to have it, and how it's not ok for kids to have it when speaking to adults.
Thank you to the sixth-grade English teacher who assigned The Golden Compass, even though, let's face it, she must have known some parents were going to take issue with that.
Thank you to the seventh-grade Geography teacher who made us memorize all of the countries of Europe, Africa, and Asia--and their capitals. I only wish we'd had to learn the United States, too.
Thank you to the eighth-grade English teacher who first assigned me Shakespeare, and helped me appreciate all the humor and wit and amazement that Shakespeare's works contain.
Thank you to the ninth-grade Latin teacher who clarified verb conjugations for me, along with the declination of nouns. I went on to read The Aeneid and Harry Potter in Latin, and though I couldn't do it now if I tried, that Latin knowledge has shaped my understanding of English vocabulary and grammar more than I could say.
Thank you to the junior-year English teacher who said, and I quote, "But in French, 'tu' is the personal form of you," when reading Julius Caesar, teaching me that not all teachers are infallible, after all.
Thank you to the senior-year English teacher who required that we underline at least one sentence per page when reading, which sparked in me a life-long love of marginalia.
Thank you to the senior-year Calc teacher who told me to stop asking why, because some things like trignometric theorems are best taken at face value.
Thank you to the French teacher I had during my semester in Paris, who helped me learn a language I needed more than I could understand. Thank you to the Irish teacher I had in college, because he taught me to love a language as much as one does a culture and a place.
Thank you to my elementary school gym teacher for teaching me the Electric Slide. Thank you to the Headmaster at my high school for offering his support in college applications, even if I was too proud to accept it. Thank you to my middle school music teacher for putting me on stage the first time, and for my high school drama teacher for putting me on stage for four years after that. Thank you to my school librarian, who pronounced the "h" in "who" and "what" and "where" and probably knew more than I ever gave her credit for, and for all the teachers who had lives outside of school that I could never see and knowledge I could never reach.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.