“Back in the day when things were cool”: A medley of teachers who loved me.

Who was your most influential teacher? Why?

Ah! Do I have the time to do the topic sweet justice?

Let’s see…

There was Mrs. Camel in Head-start. She taught me how to tie my shoes and always made sure I space to sit on the end so my elbows wouldn’t hit other people.

Then Mrs. Tucker, my all time favorite teacher. She made sure I got to read as much as I wanted. She also straightened up how I write.

Mrs. Davis—2nd grade. My third Black teacher in a row. She was kind and pushed for me to go to the gifted program.

Mrs. Jackson and Ms. Long. I was the only kid seeing 2 teachers. Ms. Jackson taught me math and Ms. Long taught me reading. Mrs. Jackson was my 4th Black teacher in row.

Ms. Sasser was my fourth grade teacher and gift program teacher. I spent HOURS in the trailer where I did copious amounts of logic puzzles and word games, wrote poems, read whatever was put in front of me, built things with my hands.

Let’s see.

Mrs. Smith taught my honors freshman English class. I can paint pictures with words because of her. She was also Black.

Coach Myers was a my J.V. basketball coach and social studies teacher for 2 years. He taught me endurance and perseverance, while also teaching me how to read history with a wide lens.

Coach Hodges was the baseball coach and also taught another English class I was in. His class was straight GRAMMAR. I learned how to rope verbs and diagram sentences. I learned how to conjugate in every tense. This made my writing rich. I LOVED his class.

Mr. Willis made me want to conquer math. He is the reason I teach math so well to middle school. The vice principal and math lead teacher, Ms. Willis had me weeping in a geometry class full of juniors and seniors. I was only in the 9th grade and the only freshman in the class. I worked my tail off for that B.

Mrs. Qualls became my guidance counselor when I switched schools. She took me under her wing, signed me up for every summer program and after school activity and scholarship known to man. I would show up to school and she’d be like, “I’m calling your parents tonight. You’re going on a trip.” Paid for. Every time.

Mr. Williams was my vocal coach and music teacher. He taught me how to use my voice like the instrument it is. He also taught me how to teach music, direct, and write songs. Wherever he went I’d go.

Mrs. Robinson-Brown didn’t teach me academics; she was my piano teacher, and she, too, took me under her wing. Wherever she went, I’d go. I learned to play piano, organ, and clarinet. I hate playing 2 of the 3! But I learned to teach myself things with her, and also figured out that I could teach kids (though I never intended to but just look at me).

Oh gosh and WHO AM I to not mention the Black librarian I had! I believe her name was also Ms. Qualls or Quarles but sheesh! Don’t quote me. When I tell you she kept me on BOOKS? She showed me how to work a library, to use it to my advantage. Google is convenient but the day the robots fully take over? I can go into any library and go beast mode—microfiche and all.

All the last teachers were also Black. Mrs. Long and Mrs. Sasser and Coach Myers and Coach Hodges were white. Why do you care to know that? Well.

Research shows that students—all students but especially white students show increased academic performance over time the more teachers of color they have. I had an overwhelming majority of Black educators who truly cared about me.

Also, please know that it takes a special person to be an educator. If you can’t tell? I had some stars in my academic pathway shining a light towards excellence in all I do and all I am. Every single person I mentioned touched my life in a positive way. They helped my family to train me up in the way I should go. And when my parents reached capacity to know how to push me forward? These people stepped in with love and vision to keep pushing me further ahead.

And now I’m a teacher.

When folks see me in the classroom? They see pieces of all of these men and women who poured into me the best of themselves, believing that I could go far. Now? I do the exact same thing. And I am so grateful for every single one of them.

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