I remember your smile and laugh the most. How you did that a lot and you were my middle school teacher. My partner, Josh, who is a child and adult therapist would say you knew how to play well with children. That’s a compliment coming from Josh. He doesn’t say that very often about adults. You were a natural, and I loved engaging with you even in my awkward adolescence. There was never a doubt in my mind that on most days, you loved being our teacher and that you enjoyed being with us. That meant everything. We reciprocated. I adored you.

I ended up being your student after Jennifer failed her spelling test in second grade at our neighborhood elementary school. I remember my mom saying she couldn’t stand the sight of a big red F on Jennifer’s paper. Also, second graders shouldn’t be saying they’re stupid! And besides, the school building was truly hideous. My mom has an eye for things.

Then we started at Aldo Leopold and that’s where I’d meet you and Renee, Terry, and Peg — each of you truly special and influential educators. I’d have this wonderful feeling of wanting to be at school because I loved being there so much with my friends and teachers.

I want to write all of the reasons that was my experience, but I need to go. I have to get to school now and be with my students.

Just so you know, I bring you into my classroom every day, all the things you taught me about really listening, being present for kids, being kind, generous, and forgiving. When I learned you had died in September a few days ago, my first wish was to have told you all this years ago. But a feeling inside reassures me that you always knew what a gift you were to me and so many children.