There are so many things I wish I would have said to you while I occupied a desk in your classroom, once I graduated, or anytime really. You deserved to know how I felt every single day, but I didn't always say it, not because I didn't care but because you were always incredible to me. I just grew to expect you swooping in and planting a smile on my face. In case you didn't know though, let me tell you exactly how I feel.
To me, you were everything rolled into one: teacher, parent, friend, and kick in the pants. I asked you to check my homework, wipe away my tears, keep my secrets, and motivate me on my worst days, and you never failed to do all of that and more. I can't begin to thank you for playing all those roles because it has helped shape me into the person I am today. You'll never know how much it meant to me that you'd take the time, even years after I'd been out of your class, to check in or to celebrate my successes with me. Making you proud was something I always aimed to do because I knew I was an extension of you, and I wanted you to know that your impact on me didn't end the minute I left your class.
You were and always will be my hero. I will forever admire how you chose a profession that put countless others before yourself, and even with that, you always made me feel like I was the most important one. Truth be told, all your students felt that way. I will forever admire your spirit. Your love of life and the people in it filled my heart with a joy that has never faded. I also will forever admire your integrity. You didn't tell me how to have character; you showed me. I watched you do what's right even if it was hard. I watched you choose kindness when most others would have turned to anger, and I watched you work as hard as you could every day no matter how exhausted you were. You were the perfect example of how to live life.
You will always be with me. I may have been a kid when we first met, but even now, I think of you when something great happens because I want to tell you. I think of you when I am reminded of a lesson you taught me. I think of you when I make most decisions because I always wonder what you would do. I promise you that your legacy will forever live on in me.
Thank you. Thank you for every hug, lesson, smile, piece of advice, and vote of encouragement. You were never "just a teacher." In fact, most days you were my favorite part about school. You've forever cemented a place in my heart that can never be replaced. I should have told you all of this every day, but I just assumed you knew.