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Makayla Schul

English 1101

Mrs. Bell

September 12th, 2019

The Teacher that Changed my Life

It was finally here, My first day of school at Butler Tech. I couldn't sleep the night before

because I was so nervous. I wake up the morning of and was ready way before it was time to

leave. Of course, my mom makes me pose for my “first day of junior year” photo. Annoyed I

walked outside, I took the picture and I headed out to start the day. I arrived in the parking lot

and I sat for a few seconds as my anxiety built higher. I got out of my car, and I’m was shaking

so bad my knees locked. The crisp wind hit my face as I walked in and I couldn’t stop thinking,

I’m starting over my junior year in high school, all my friends are at different schools, how am I

possibly going to get through this day.

I opened the doors to the school, and I walked quickly to the classroom that has the sign

Teacher Academy right outside the door and walk-in. New faces overwhelm my anxiety, so I

found a seat next to someone from my home school that I was semi-close with and took a seat.

“Good morning,” a soft voice said as I look up from my new school supplies, standing in front of

everyone is the teacher that changed my life. Don’t let that statement fool you, it was hard for me

to adjust my way of thinking to hers. Ms. Russo had a very different teaching style than I was

used to. My whole school career leading up to this point revolved around what grade you

received on your assignments. Drilled in my head that I had to get an A to be successful. I never

really learned information to retain it, I just remembered it long enough to get a good grade. Her
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take on learning was completely different. She always said, “learning isn’t about the grade you

receive, it's about knowing the information and being confident in your work.” It was hard to

grasp the idea of learning and retaining. She encouraged all of us to invest in ourselves and really

fight for what our own education. In the first few weeks of school, maybe even months I

struggled to adapt to her laid-back approach. As the days and months passed, I was finally open-

minded enough to let her words change my way of thinking.

I had never been the best student. I struggled to stay focused, especially if the topic being

taught didn’t spark my interest. Being the youngest of two older brothers that had very different

personalities wasn’t the easiest either. My brothers always had letters sent home from teachers

about how much of a pleasure they were to have in class, I, on the other hand, did not. At the

beginning of each school year, teachers were always so excited to have another “Schul” in their

classroom. Most of them quickly realized I wasn’t quite the same. I’ve never really felt like I was

as intelligent as my brothers, and I never met the expectations of a “Schul”. I lacked a lot of

confidence in my schoolwork and never really took a lot of pride in my own education.

Ironically enough, the teachers that made me feel like I didn't reach their expectations

made me want to become a teacher even more. Now there I was, in a classroom full of other

students that have the same goals and a teacher that worked tirelessly to instill some confidence I

never had. She encouraged me to embrace the level I was at and challenged me to grow. One

rememberable example is when we had to sign up for competition. Not too keen on the idea of

competing in Educators Rising, I had a really hard time choosing which subject I wanted to

compete in. We were approaching Christmas break and I knew when we all would return; I

would have to choose one. Troubled with anxiety, I ignored the idea all Christmas break.
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I want to explain what Educators Rising is. Educators Rising is an organization that

brings individuals that are in hopes of becoming a teacher together to compete and share their

knowledge and skills to judges on a state and national level. Of course, to compete in any

competition on the national level you must place at the state level. State-level means that for

example, I live in Ohio and I would be competing with anyone else in Ohio that is a part of the

organization and chose the same competition topic. National level means that any student that

placed in their state competition now competed against others that also placed. Educator Rising

normally chooses a location where nationals take place and those that can, travel to compete.

With that in mind, maybe you can understand my reluctance to part take in something

I’ve never dreamed of doing. It’s now New Year’s Day, and I still hadn't thought about

competitions. Next thing I know it’s the night before we’d return to school and I'm still clueless.

With tears in my eyes, I walked into school, freighted that Russo would be disappointed in me.

“Mrs. Russo, I still haven’t picked a topic for competition, I’m so sorry. I’m really

terrified.” I say nervously as I walk into class

“Makayla, I will sit down with you and go over each competition it will be okay, we will

figure it out together.” Russo says calmly.

She sat me down and went through every competition topic till one peaked interest.

Funny enough I still wasn’t impressed by any of them.

“I think you’ll be amazing at public speaking! All you’d do is write a speech about why

you wanted to become a teacher.” Russo said excitedly

Unenthusiastic I reply, “okay, I'll try.”


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I really didn’t fully grasp that I had to write a speech and perform it in front of judges

and peers. I worked constantly to write a speech about me and where my passion for education

stems from. Not being a very good writer, I really turned to Ms. Russo for guidance. As my

speech developed, I became more and more confident and excited about this opportunity to share

my feelings on education. Never in a million years did I think I would write a speech I’d take so

much pride in. The week of preparation passed before I could blink my eyes. Competition day

was finally here, I walked into the room were the judges sat, I introduced myself, shanking in my

skin I stood in front of a sea of faces and began.

“My brother can learn, my brother can learn, my brother can learn” I say proudly and

loudly catching the attention of the audience.

Mrs. Brecka Russo is a woman I will forever be grateful for. In just one school year, my

life had changed. She once said, “Everything in this life can be a teachable moment, don’t let it

slip.” As I continue to grow, I keep this in mind. I never wanted to let her down, but more

importantly I don't want to let myself down. As I continue my education to become a teacher

myself, I hope than one day I will touch the lives of my future students and encourage them to be

confident in themselves, because growth will never end.

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