My Favorite Teacher

Ann Christian dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coachI was recently interviewing for a teaching job, and one of the questions was, “What teacher had the most impact on your life?”  That was an easy question for me: Ann Christian. Ms. Christian was my 10th grade English teacher back in 1967. She was awesome, and she changed my life without ever knowing it.

It was an act of God that brought me to her class to begin with. I was getting ready to go to High School and excited to be moving up with the friends I had made over the past few years. Then I got the news. I was not going to Woodrow Wilson with my friends.  Because of where we lived, I was on the fringe of the district and they decided I should go to another school in Dallas….Hillcrest High.

I was not a happy camper over that and tried to figure out how to go to Woodrow, but there was no getting around the system. I had to go to Hillcrest! Fate, it seemed was taking me down an unknown pathway.

That decision turned out to be a good thing for me. Hillcrest was predominantly Jewish at the time. There were also three black kids…and me…a white Protestant. There may have been other Protestants at the school, but I never met them. I decided to make the most of it since I really had no control of where I was going to go.

Ms. Christian had an incredible impact on me. Here are a few things I loved about her as my teacher:

  • She encouraged me to write, and that is something that I have done ever since I was in her class.
  • She saw things in people that they did not see themselves and was able to draw that out of them. I had no idea that I loved to write till she gave me the key to unlock that door and encouraged me to open it. I have that ability today to draw things out of people that they do not see in themselves, thanks to Ms. Christian.
  • I had the reputation as the teacher’s pet…but I was OK with that because I knew she really loved me….and I loved her. I would have done anything to make her proud of me. She had that ability to inspire people to greatness.
  • I have to admit I was initially drawn to her teaching because she was so beautiful. How can a 10th grade boy NOT love a great looking teacher that truly cares about him and everyone in her class? I realized as I got to know her that it was her internal beauty…her character…that really attracted me the most to her as a teacher. She was genuine…the “Real Deal” as we say here in Texas.
  • She could correct you without crushing you.  I remember one day I was laughing and talking to my neighbor in class and she called my name. I looked up at her with an “Uh-Oh” face, and she smiled, shook her head, and said, “I just can’t get mad at you!” We laughed, and I shut up and got back on task. She made her point, but she spoke it in love.

I tried for years to find out what happened to her. I wanted to thank her for the impact she had had on my life. Unfortunately, I found out she died in 2007, and she had been living in the town I was born in: Waco.  Kind of ironic, isn’t it? I would have driven down to Waco had I known where she was.

Ms. Christian, you will always be special in my heart. I wish I could have told you how much you meant to me throughout my life. Thanks for inspiring me to think, to learn, and create.

If there was someone like Ms. Christian who really impacted your life for the good, please tell them while you can. You never know when it will be too late to let them know how much you cared for them…and it will be the reward they lived for…to know they left a legacy of learning and love.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

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