(Reflection offered by a recent graduate at the Faculty and Staff end-of-year meeting at La Salle Academy on Monday, 13 June 2016)
What do teachers do? Well, I work at a library and one day I was shelving books in the children’s section and came across one with this exact title. As it was a slow day at work and I was curious, I decided to peek inside the book and see exactly how the role of a teacher was to be defined. Immediately it began to discuss lesson planning and teaching an actual course. This got me thinking. Yes, you all do just that. You work tirelessly planning lessons, grading papers, creating innovative ways to teach lessons, and standing in front of rooms full of students each day and sharing your wealth of knowledge. To some extent, that is what you all do here at La Salle. And I’m sure that there are many teachers at other schools who let their roles stop there. But those of us here at La Salle have been blessed with getting so much more from our teachers than just a textbook lesson.
I have personally always been that kid that makes friends with my teachers. Even in elementary school I loved to share my passions with my teachers. When I was being bullied when I was younger, teachers were often the friends that I could turn to on a rough day. Here at La Salle I, along with many other students, have been met with the same kindness and encouragement both in the classroom and outside. Without the teachers here at La Salle, the students, especially those of us in the class of 2016 who just graduated, would not have been able to achieve the great accomplishments that we have. Whether it be on the sports field, video studio, art room, the stage, in organizations, or in the science lab, the lessons that we have learned have extended far outside of the classroom.
While it would be impossible to fully reveal the numerous ways that each of you has impacted all of those students who have been in your classes, I can share my own experience here. In Biology I didn’t just learn that the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell, but how to be efficient and organized when working on long term projects that require large amounts of research. In English I learned from numerous literary works and classroom discussions how to question the world around us. I have learned to understand the minds and beliefs of many different people from different background with different experiences allowing me to be better prepared to go out into the world to help others and understand them, just as St John Baptist de La Salle did. In religion I have not only continued my personal faith journey but gained a deeper acceptance for those who differ from myself and have seen the beauty in traditions from many cultures. In physics I have not just learned about the mathematical application that accompanies Newton’s third law of motion, but also I was taught how to push myself to solve problems in front of me and not give up immediately on something that I am not immediately good at. In video production I learned about the ability within me to tell stories through image and the worlds that my creativity can create. From history I have learned that it is important to acknowledge the past and all of its mistakes so that we might learn and grow from them. In philosophy I learned not only about Plato and Aristotle but about how to think and the importance of questioning everything. The list goes on and on.
But it is not only the in-classroom role that teachers have that has had a profound impact. It is the ability to stay after school every Tuesday and discuss everything from struggles to jokes to continuing classroom discussions. The ability to email a teacher in the middle of the summer in the middle of a personal crisis and have them respond, ready to help me in any way that they can. I have been blessed with many teachers who have encouraged my passions, aiding me with my writing, photography, and my campaign. I am thankful for those who have stayed after class to talk about decisions in my life, whether it be where to go to college or when in a fight with a friend. And then there are always the teachers that have been able to make me smile or laugh, ensuring me that there is always something to smile about. I know through talking to many of my friends and peers that this has not just been the case for me but for numerous others, and we leave these halls better and stronger people due to the love and support from all of you sitting before me today.
So I would like to say the sincerest thank you to all of you here today, especially the teachers that I have had the privilege of learning from. Without you all I don’t know that I would have been able to find the strength to overcome all of the obstacles that have come my way and found the confidence to go out into the world to pursue the things I love. Know that you have impacted my life exponentially along with all of your other students and what you do here each and every day is important and valued.
Samantha Kennedy–Class of 2016