As writers we talk all the time about the books and authors who have inspired us. And while I have my list of inspirational authors, there is someone on my list who isn't an author. He was my sophomore-year English teacher in high school. His name was Mr. McKay. He was the most enthusiastic and caring teacher I've ever had, and to be honest I can't even imagine a better teacher. He made me love reading and writing even more, and he solidified my decision to become a teacher. I wanted to inspire others the way he inspired me.
Why am I bringing up Mr. McKay today? Well, on Monday I visited two schools in my hometown. While I was at my first visit the teachers asked me when I graduated and if I knew Mr. McKay. My answer was, "He was favorite teacher!" Then they told me he is now Dr. McKay, principal of Lounsberry Hollow Middle School where my next visit was scheduled. I couldn't have been more excited. I had to tell him just how much he influenced me.
So that afternoon, I went to Lounsberry and I was overcome with emotion. First, there was a gorgeous banner and tons of signs made for me.
It was the nicest welcome ever, and I was so touched that the students and staff went through all that trouble just for me.
And then Dr. McKay walked into the library. My smile couldn't have been wider. He looked the same, and he remembered me. That made my day. We talked for a while, and not only did he give me a very touching introduction when the students arrived, but he also stayed for the entire hour and a half presentation and then stayed after to talk to me. Because he cares that much. Hearing him say he was proud of me was beyond words. I almost teared up several times, and I'm tearing up now as I type this. I told him face-to-face just how much he influenced me and that he is by far the best teacher I've ever had. I also gave him a signed copy of Touch of Death because he really wanted to read that one with his father/son book club, which made me insanely happy. And I may have written him a thank you card as well and gushed about his brilliance some more.
Being able to say "thank you" and tell Dr. McKay that I wouldn't be who I am today if not for his influence was an incredible experience. So if there's someone who had a big impact on you like this, please tell them, because we need more Dr. McKays in this world.
|Me with Dr. McKay|