Go ahead, ask anyone of any age who their favorite teachers are (trust me, it will always be present-tense). I guarantee they can name them without a second thought.
We all know why.
Because these people matter. Good teachers aren't just game changers, they are life changers. They are models of strength and wisdom. They guide us along the path to our dreams. They encourage. They demand. They inspire.
They show up day after thankless day. They show up with passion.
They chose this road, knowing it would be difficult and inhospitable. They chose it not for money or fame or praise. They chose it knowing that respect would not be given freely, but earned, and even then would be hard to come by. They chose to teach in spite of the struggle, the long hours, the haranguing of parents and students alike.
They chose it for you. Because they believed in you, even before they knew you. Because they knew you were good enough, even when you didn't.
Good teachers are not easy. They do not settle for your second best, your excuses, your desire to just get by. They don't want to hear why you can't. They want to show you that you can. They don't want to hand out good grades, but they do want to see you earn them. They want more, because they know you are capable. Because they want to see you succeed outside the walls of mere academia. Because they know your potential.
The best teachers are not always the favorites. They are the ones you butt heads with. The ones who are fiercely disliked. The ones who pull you away from the comfortable lull of things you already know.
The teachers who really matter teach more than just the textbook. They teach you about yourself. They reveal to you new depths of your character. They show you the long-armed reach of your true abilities. It is not an easy road, but they are willing to walk make the trek with you.
They aren't doing this for themselves; they are doing this for you. For every student who will grow stronger because they were challenged. For every child who grows up to be more than they thought possible. For every single one of you who will look back and realize that you truly learned something worthwhile.
Someday I hope to find all of the teachers who changed my life. To look them in the eye and tell them that they matter more than they will ever know. But today, to those of you I have within my reach, I want you to know that I appreciate what you have done for me and countless others. I want you to know that the love you have bestowed through teaching will span the world over and trickle through generations unknown. You are life changers, all of you.
Happy Teacher Appreciation Day.