Yesterday I surprised my high school theatre teacher Mr. Bill Garrett to thank him for pushing me to audition for the school play my senior year of high school when all I really cared about was becoming a professional dancer. When I got the lead in that play called "The Mouse That Roared" (how fitting now that I think of it), I remember telling my mom I didn't want to take time away from dance to do it but he was offering me extra credit which I wasn't in the position to turn down since I was NOT his best student. That play changed the course of my life. It revealed my true self and my calling to me at a critical time. None of what I have accomplished today would have been possible had my high school theatre teacher not genuinely taken an interest in me when truthfully I wasn't even excelling in his class. When I surprised him on campus yesterday to ask him my burning question of why he relentlessly encouraged me to audition for that play, he held my Emmy with tears in his eyes and said "I just knew you could do it." Before I left he wanted to give me something - his copy of The Mouse That Roared. As an adult now I realize what he did for me and how easily it might have been to overlook the careless, "excessively talking" student I was in his class. He told me the very reason he became a theatre teacher was because he had a teacher change the course of his life the way he had changed mine.
I often think what if I never had Mr.Garrett, where would I be today?
So to the passionate, empathetic, intuitive teachers who are seeing beyond the teenage angst and complexities to shape the lives of so many - I applaud you. You are the ones who deserve the awards.
And to you Mr.Garrett, thank you.