Springtime in Kentucky brings lots of things for which to be grateful. I have had the opportunity to travel to and live in some amazingly beautiful places, but the abundance of colors that spring brings to the Bluegrass state makes this one of my favorite places on earth.
In addition to blooms and vibrant greens, early May brings annual celebrations such as Mother’s Day and Derby Day. The first full week of May also is Teacher Appreciation Week – an opportunity for all of us to say thank you to a teacher who had an impact on our lives or the lives of our students.
Growing up in Meade County, I had a number of wonderful teachers who made a positive impact on my upbringing and life – not the least of which were my own mom and dad. JoAnn and Jim Glass both spent their professional lives working in education in service to our community. It makes me proud to think of their legacy, that they changed the course of lives other than just mine and my sister and brother. It’s that ability to help others and know that what you do matters that keeps many of us in the teaching profession.
One particularly great teacher I had was Dr. Sam Melloy, who taught English at Meade County High School, where I was in his class for my junior and senior year. As a 17- and 18-year-old in his classroom, I had reached the maximum distance between what I THOUGHT I knew versus what I REALLY knew. I am grateful for Dr. Melloy putting up with me during this time!
Several qualities made Dr. Melloy an exceptional teacher. First, he had a deep love and knowledge of the content he taught. He was passionate about literature in all its forms and loved the process of creative thinking and writing, which came through in his work with his students. Later, as a college student at the University of Kentucky, I remember being so thankful to have been exposed as a high school student to many of the writers, thinkers and concepts I found in my college English classes.
Dr. Melloy supported us in becoming writers in our own right. I recall in our senior writing project he allowed each student to choose a topic of our own interest and passion. He supported us through a process of developing our concepts, conducting in-depth research, gathering information, and organizing our findings and thinking into written pieces of which we were very proud.
Dr. Melloy also was genuinely interested in our development as young people and writers. He very closely read my writing project, providing helpful, supportive and critical/honest feedback. He pushed us to go deeper, to research different perspectives and points of view, and to revise and work on our writing pieces to shape them into quality work. He took the time necessary to support us individually in that effort.
As an adult, I have reflected on what talents I have and how I have used them to succeed in work and life. Foremost among those was a gift and love of writing, and I can trace back to those days in Dr. Melloy’s classes as a critical point in supporting my development as a writer.
So, as we come upon Teacher Appreciation Week, I would like to thank all of Kentucky’s teachers for all they do on behalf of their students and communities. The positive contributions you make to the lives of young people and the future of our nation and world are immeasurable and I am so incredibly grateful for your dedication.
Please consider a teacher who had a positive impact on you and how you might let them know that their efforts were appreciated and how they may have changed the course of your life. I know our teachers deserve it, and I also know they would love to hear from you!