It's always been an educator.

Sixth grade,
Mr. Kochanny,
Reading, writing, and social studies teacher.
Taught me to love history,
To fight to keep the arts in school,
Endlessly pushed me out of my comfort zone.
Still cares about me and tries to come to my performances,
Promises I can come to him if I ever need anything.

Sixth, seventh, and eighth grade,
Mrs. Weisend,
School counselor.
Always had a warm smile,
Helped me to trust her enough to tell her when a friend needed help,
Remembers my name still to this day and lights up when she sees me.

Seventh grade,
Mrs. Zietler,
English teacher.
Encouraged my love of reading by always discussing what I was reading with me,
High compliments on my writing but always gave constructive criticism to make it better,
Keeps tabs on how I'm doing and is always delighted when I visit.

Seventh, eighth, and ninth grade,
Mrs. Kempsell,
Choir director.
Kindest soul I've ever met,
Always pushing me to do my best,
Encouraged me to pursue singing more seriously.

Eighth grade,
Mrs. Lambert,
English teacher.
Pushed me to read even more than I already was and to challenge myself while doing so,
Was always willing to chat books,
Has the kindest smile,
Always gives me a hug when I visit.

Eighth grade,
Mr. T.,
History teacher.
Taught me that history is fascinating and fun not just interesting,
Taught me to fight for what I believe in.

Eighth, ninth, tenth, eleventh, twelfth grade,
Miss Tara,
Voice teacher.
Never lets me talk badly about myself,
Is always encouraging,
Never endingly reminds me how far I've come,
Always pushes me to do better.

Ninth grade,
Mr. Schwartzkopf,
Geometry teacher.
Helped me to realize it's ok to admit you need help,
Gave me extra time to take care of my mental health,
Teased but always made it clear I could trust him.

Ninth grade,
Mr. Bauer,
Biology teacher.
Always asks me about my photography,
Smiles at me conspiratorially as a fellow photographer and jokingly salutes me when I pass in the hallway,
Always makes me laugh.

Ninth grade,
Mrs. Hall,
English teacher.
Serious in class but so kind-hearted,
Easy to talk to,
One I trusted for advice when I was lost for what to do.

Tenth grade,
Mr. Milne,
History teacher.
Allowed me to be sassy without repercussions which helped me to come out of my shell,
Built a sense of community in our class that made it sad to leave it.

Tenth grade,
Mr. Gledhill,
Art teacher.
Made me feel like my art was worth something for the first time,
Gave me the space and time I needed to make me happier with my art.

Tenth grade,
Mrs. Pancost,
English teacher.
Taught me what it meant to truly be strong for love,
Created a space of acceptance,
Increased my love for poetry and introduced me to slam poetry.

Tenth grade, eleventh grade,
Mrs. Farison,
Choir director.
First person in my life that I can recall that simply listened to me with her full attention on me,
Always pushes me to do better as musician,
Is unfailingly honest with me about how I can be a better person and if something isn't going to be right for me,
Is always willing to give a hug or go out for coffee if I need advice or someone to listen to.

Eleventh grade,
Mr. Mac,
Physics teacher.
Unfailingly patient despite the fact I was clearly understanding nothing,
Always willing to spend extra time with me to help,
His warm smile and joking nature made him easy to approach,
Recognized dropping out of his class was the best choice for my mental health,
Always waves at me when he's outside as I walk by his house.

Eleventh grade,
Mr. Richards,
Answered my ten million questions when planning the walkout,
Always up for a solid political discussion in which he makes me broaden my world view,
Helped calm me down when I was overstressing about it.

Twelfth grade,
Mr. Gardner,
Choir director.
Acknowledges me as a leader,
Takes me seriously,
Is grateful for my help,
Is patiently obstinate when I make self deprecating comments,
Does what he can to help me not stress,
Remembers the little things I mention.

Twelfth grade is just beginning,
And more will soon come,
But do you see my point?

Educators have shaped me,
Been my mentors.
Yet out of all the people in society who shape it,
They are treated the worst.

I won't stand for this,
Not when all they've shown me is love,
It's time for a little love in response.

This poem is about: 
My community
My country


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