I've had so many great teachers growing up, but Mr. McGraw has always stood out when I think of teachers who have influenced me.
I was in his fifth grade class, his very first class. Our classroom was separated from the rest of the fifth grade rooms. They were all on the second floor, with lots of windows. We were down in the cellar. It wasn't really a cellar, but in that seventy-year-old building, on the basement floor, down a dark, cement hallway, it sort of felt like it.
But it was great.
Mainly because of our teacher.
Mr. McGraw is my hero-teacher because of how he builds people up. I really don't remember anything academic-related that he taught me. (Sorry, Mr. McGraw.) But I grew more in his class than in any other.
He really got to know me. He laughed at my lame jokes. Like, genuinely laughed. I was pretty shy, and he pushed me to try things and share things and lead things that normally would have been out of the question, but somehow Mr. McGraw knew how to unlock the confidence to go for it.
Once, in the middle of the year, he personally asked me to be part of the model rocket club he was going to start after school. He wasn't just doing a sweeping survey of anyone interested. He wanted me to be in it. I still remember that feeling: the feeling like, this teacher, who I look up to so much and admire, is making me feel like he admires me.
The model rocket club was awesome. I don't think he really knew a whole lot about model rockets. But that was just another thing to love about Mr. McGraw: when he had an idea, he just went for it. He was willing to learn as he went, and he wasn't afraid to make mistakes.
But that feeling. I won't forget that feeling. Like I was important to the success of the whole dang club. Like I was important to him. Like I was important to this world. And I bet he has given that feeling to thousands of people by now.
Read about more teacher heroes below! And don't forget, the "Teachers Are Heroes!" sale at Teachers Pay Teachers starts Wednesday. Stop by my store if you're interested.