“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” — Albert Schweitzer
When I walked into my first day of sixth grade, I think I fell just a little bit in love with my new sixth grade teacher. It was Miss Bloom’s first year of teaching at my elementary school, and she was by far the coolest person I had ever seen with her stylish haircut, white go-go boots and her peace sign earrings. Not to say that I didn’t have great teachers up to that point, but Miss Bloom was in an altogether different universe. I could even imagine Miss Bloom outside of the classroom, and that was a new concept for an eleven year old.
Maybe I was just more open to learning from someone who had really caught my attention, but sixth grade was the year when I understood I had something to offer the world. Miss Bloom saw something inside me that other teachers had missed, and she spent the year coaxing that out of me and every other one of her students (except one Jackie Collins, my cousin’s best friend- a heart throb and definitely the bad *ss of the sixth grade). I had always been a good student; that wasn’t new, but something about her belief in me changed the way I thought of myself.
Changing friendships, changing bodies, altogether too much attention to the aforementioned Jackie Collins…. Suffice it to say that it was a grenade waiting to explode amongst the sixth grade girls at Lilja Elementary. When I found myself on the outside of my ex-group of friends, Miss Bloom helped me find my way back. I don’t remember ever telling her what happened, but somehow she seemed to know, and orchestrated a truce and eventually a return to normalcy.
I never really thanked Miss Bloom, beyond following her around all moony-eyed. I am pretty sure she knew how I felt, since I jumped up to help whenever she asked, and I overdid every assignment she gave (oh, and yes, the word brown-nose did get tossed around by my classmates). Alas it’s only in the rear view mirror that I can really appreciate the confidence leap she encouraged me to take.
Which brings me to my point- teachers can make all the difference in a girl’s life, and never know it. Small things can have a big impact for the better, as Miss Bloom’s encouragement did for me. Giving thanks and reflecting on who we are is an important part of this holiday season, and I will forever be grateful for this one woman’s faith in me. In my own way, I try to pay that forward with each one of our girls here. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!