The Impact of a Teacher

A heartfelt reflection on 12 years in the classrooms at NA

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Teacher Magazine

At its best, the teaching profession is a calling, and the desire to teach often originates in our youth when we're in the presence of inspiring mentors.

Carli Leonard, Staff Writer

In a few weeks, I will wrap up my senior year at NA, a district I’ve been a part of since Kindergarten. I have been taught by many teachers who have all impacted me in one way or another. While I may not have loved each and every class, each teacher I have had has shaped me into the student and young adult that I am today. 

The ones who have had the most meaningful impact on me, though, are those who have shown they cared.  I felt that they were looking out for me, and I felt comfortable talking with them.

At North Allegheny, and specifically NASH, the school is filled with these teachers. They have worked not only to better my academics but also my character.  They are the ones who see me as a person rather than just a part of their job. 

I recognize that teaching the content of a particular course is the primary goal of every teacher.  But many go beyond that duty.  My most influential teachers actually have not cared all that much about a late pass on occasions when I’ve needed to stay behind in another class. They’re the ones who have noticed when I appear especially tired and worried and have simply asked, “What’s up?”  They’re the ones who have offered to let me go into another room so I can complete my work in a quiet place. 

My best teachers have asked about my family, my home life, and my interests. They’ve understood that, on days when I was unfocused, it wasn’t because I didn’t care but because my life outside of school was weighing heavily on my mind.”

My best teachers have asked about my family, my home life, and my interests. They’ve understood that, on days when I was unfocused, it wasn’t because I didn’t care but because my life outside of school was weighing heavily on my mind.

I have been shaped by those teachers, and I am proud to say I want to be a teacher because of them. 

When you are from a suburban community and attend a prestigious high school, a lot of adults see you as just that. They see a perfect teenage life with no real problems. Often when we struggle, we are told to stop being so dramatic. 

Despite our good fortune, however, we all deal with the challenges of growing up, though a lot of us try to keep our struggles hidden. The teachers who are able to relate to our reality — the ones who sense our problems even if they can’t quite identify them — are the ones who truly deserve praise.

Not every high school student has an adult at home who cares for their mental health. The teachers who fill those roles, who step up to be sources of strength that students can rely on, are making the most important difference in the lives of young adults.  They’re mentors in the truest sense of the word.

So, in honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, I want to offer a sincere “Thank You.” Thank you to the teachers who care deeply and without hesitation for each and every student who walks into the classroom. I hope to be just like you one day.