Dear Mrs. Powell,

I hope this finds you well and happy, perhaps retired in Mexico.

I will never forget the time you returned from Spring Break, excited to teach us about Xochicalco, which you had just toured. We stopped our slog through the year’s assignments and began an impromptu project on Mayan culture. We learned so much, not the least of which was how to pronounce Xochicalco! The rich history and art of Mexico took us far away from the industrial carpet town of Dalton, Georgia.

Mrs. Powell, I want to say a million thanks for the special interest you took in me, a geeky eleven-year-old, who didn’t wear the right clothes or shoes. I was shy, and liked to write. You encouraged me. Story after story I wrote, which you read in your precious free time. You helped me enter writing and oratory contests. You were certain I would go to college (the first girl in my family to go). Though you told me I could do whatever I wanted, you were certain I’d be a writer when I grew up.

Amazingly, you gave me your old typewriter.

Mrs. Powell, I took that typewriter to college. I graduated with a degree in microbiology. I went on to earn a Ph.D., always with your voice in my head. That I was special. That I could do anything. You were one of many teachers who took the time to encourage me–a kid who could have easily fallen through the cracks. I pursued science as a career, but eventually found my way back to writing. Now, I proudly call myself an author. I have you to thank, and many other teachers who helped me along the way.

You were one of many teachers who took the time to encourage me–a kid who could have easily fallen through the cracks.

To all the teachers who take time to read that extra story, help a struggling kid with their homework, see a spark of talent in a child and nurture it, I am so grateful.

As a society, we should all be more grateful. Teachers nourish the minds and souls of children, providing a foundation for success.

Everyone likes to thank teachers, but we need to do more. Our teachers are now expected to lay down their lives for students. We need common sense gun laws that make schools safer. We need classrooms filled with adequate supplies. Teachers need compensation commensurate with years of higher education and heavy responsibility. Thanking teachers should be more than an apple on the desk.

Mrs. Powell, I now have the privilege of running for Florida House of Representatives. When I win, I will fight for teachers (and children), in your honor.

As a society, we should all be more grateful. Teachers nourish the minds and souls of children, providing a foundation for success.

Wherever you are, I imagine you smiling.

Thank you. You were the best fifth-grade teacher a kid could ever have.

Sincerely,
Jennifer Boddicker, Ph.D.

P.S. I still have your typewriter.