I have written this letter before. Not to you of course, but to my mother. Back when I was younger and in elementary school, we had a lesson about writing about our heroes. All those years ago, I had written about my mother and grandmother because of their generosity and volunteering. Those two women inspire me still, they really do. Back then, my mother and grandmother were the most inspirational people I knew. Now with a different set of lenses on my life, I see the truth. My mother hated the way I used to scribble on looseleaf, dreaming up short stories in my head. She never encouraged me to write. She never pushed me towards my own goals and dreams, which is something I can forgive her for. I used to spend so much time making lists of character names and creating elaborate backstories for them when I was a child. My grandmother used to pay me in books for working for her all those years ago. Back then it was them who inspired me but truthfully, there is no woman out there that inspires me quite as much as you do.
I can still remember that first day I sat down in your English class. I was anxious, nervous. I had just recently had one of the worst summers of my life but I had survived it. I came into my high school days with a fresh new attitude along with my trusty zipper binders, but I was still scared shitless of my first few weeks in this new environment. My last few classes of the day were always my favourite because I had you as my teacher.
Whenever asked the question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" I would always answer with the words: a teacher. My whole life that is all I ever wanted to do, was to teach. I liked the way that teachers could shape, define, and inspire who you are as a person, just by being there every day and showing up for their students. Not every teacher was like you. I watched you care for all of your students deeply, with your heart on your sleeve. I mean it when I say you were such an inspiration to me back then. You were a brand-new teacher, teaching at two different schools and in two different age groups back then. That attitude towards your jobs wowed me. You even told me yourself countless times over the years since meeting you that I would make a good teacher.
You made a special point in reading some of my short stories and written work back then. You encouraged me to enter local writing contests and even though my poetry never made the cut for the book back then, my photography did. You made me feel seen, in ways that I did not know that I needed. In one of my journals, I still have the original sticky note with the submission email in your handwriting. I leave it there to remind me of how you inspired me back in my high school days.
I have never had an English teacher that was quite as good as you, and I relished every class that I had shared with you as your student. The projects that you had created, inspired my writer's brain. In our Social studies class, I remember creating a whole island with a set of customs and traditions. It was by far one of the best world-building exercises that you could have ever given me, even if the true purpose was a gateway into studying cultural religions. You inspired me so much back then, and you still do to this day.
You encouraged me to shift my views on literature. I saved pretty well every single short story from my English classes over the years, and the only Shakespearan work I ever truly loved was Macbeth, because you taught it. Every single English teacher I had was compared to you in the back of my mind. You challenged me and inspired me.
When I began struggling in school, you were my supervisor for my online classes. You enjoyed helping your students, and though I did not always make you feel appreciated back then, I appreciate what you did for me and my high school boyfriend at the time. You inspired those of us in the small classroom away from the high school. You were our safe space in order for most of us to graduate. And it gave me a new outlook on your life and the way you teach. No matter what garbage went through your day, you still showed up for your students. You are raw and real. Not a lot of people can appreciate that quality in a person but I do. You have a natural ability with people that blows me away. I made so many mistakes in my last year of high school, and I relish every conversation that I get to have with you.
You have inspired me to be a better person, a better writer, a better mother. Because of you, I have the confidence to write. There aren't enough words in the world to explain to you how grateful I was to have you as my teacher for so many years. All I have left to say is this: Thank you for inspiring me into who I want to be. Thank you for being the amazing woman that you are. Because you have no idea how much you have inspired me to be better.
Chloe Rose Violet