May 16, 2013

Letter: The lives we change

— This week is teacher appreciation week, a time when we give special recognition to those who often are not recognized enough.

I was blessed to have wonderful teachers all the way through school. Even the ones I “didn’t care for” were great. (Of course, this was something I didn’t realize until I was an adult.)

But there was one teacher, in particular, who not only educated me, she helped me become the kind of teacher I am today.

Mrs. Leisa Smith, or as her “journalism babies” so fondly called her, “Beloved Mentor,” was not your average teacher. There was a quality that she possessed that made her one of a kind.

Mrs. Smith was a Christian.

In a society where often teachers feel like their faith has to be kept under wraps in fear of offending someone and losing their job, Mrs. Smith proudly wore her Christian faith. No, she didn’t read the Bible aloud to her classes; she didn’t lead the class in prayer. She displayed her faith through her actions. She walked the walk. And by her walk, she showed her students the model of a true Christian.

After high school (Go Raiders!), Mrs. Smith and I stayed in touch. I usually would make an annual visit to the school to see her and catch her up on the latest news in my life. Occasionally, the news was too exciting, so an email or phone call was necessary. That was the case when I landed my first teaching position.

Mrs. Smith passed away in October 2009.

Mrs. Smith taught me an important lesson that I carry with me today: Being a great teacher isn’t about the lessons we teach, it’s about the lives we change.

“Happy trails,” Beloved Mentor.

Kristen M. Douglas

Spanish/ESOL teacher

Coahulla Creek High School