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Find your teachers and tell them: guest post by Kelly Silwani

Kelly Silwani, a past president of the Ohio Educational Library Media Association, shared a lovely response to my blog post "Kind act of the year award" about finding and recognizing teachers who have made a difference in our lives.  I asked her if she would be willing to expand her comment into a guest blog post and she was kind enough to do so. Find the touching reminisce below...


My grandmother, Mabel Motts, is in the middle row, far right with the polka dotted dress.  Miss Thomas is right below her with the white blouse with the bow.

I’ll let you in on a little secret . . . I have a ritual that I perform every year on the first day of school. Before I turn on the lights in the library, I stop inside the entrance and say, “I made it grandma.” My grandmother is no longer with us, and passed away before I got my first job as a teacher-librarian, but she was very influential in my life, helping me to become the person, the teacher, the librarian, I am now.

Maybe it was melancholy or nostalgia, I’m not sure, but whatever it was, I spent a lot of time this last summer reflecting on the people in my life, who were great examples of what it meant to be a great teacher. One in particular, Miss Thomas, was my second grade teacher. The more I thought about her, remembered what she did for me, the more I wanted to tell her how important she was, but I had no clue where to find her and Google was no help. As the summer went by, she was in my thoughts almost every single day. I had to find her and tell her. She needed to know her support for my love of reading, her kindness, and her faith in us as students, put me on the path to becoming a school librarian. As fate would have it, I happen to be a member of a Facebook group that supports alumni from the school district I attended. I decided to take a chance and reached out to the group. In July, I posted a question and asked if anyone remembered her or knew how to contact her. Within a few hours, and through the magic of the internet, someone sent me a private message with her contact information.

When Miss Thomas and I spoke by phone a few days later, I made sure right away to let her know how much she influenced the woman and teacher I am now. She commented how wonderful it was to hear what I had to say, because she always wondered if she ever really made a difference in the lives of any of her students. I assured her she influenced so many of us and offered to add her to the alumni Facebook group so she could see for herself all the wonderful comments her former students made about her, and read for herself how she influenced them. Our talked turned to my grandmother because I knew Miss Thomas and my grandmother had taught at the same school. She said she believed her first year of teaching was the last year my grandmother taught.

Shortly after that phone conversation, I visited Miss Thomas at her home. She shared sweet stories about my brother, cousin, and me. She talked about her path to becoming a teacher and her life now. I shared with her my journey, stories about my husband and kids, my love of reading and teaching and what it meant to me to be able to share all of that with her. She pulled out a photo album to show me. Back in the day, the school would take a picture of each class with their teacher and a separate photo of all the staff members in the school. As I turned the page of the album, there in the first staff photo was my grandmother. All at once so many emotions poured into me . . . love, loss, missing her, wishing she was still here to share my life and who I’ve become . . .so many things I just can’t put into words. I had seen so many pictures of my grandmother but never, ever one of her as a teacher. In that moment I was connected to my grandmother across time . . .teacher to teacher. By reaching out to my 2nd grade teacher to share her impact on me, I was given a gift. A gift I would have never known had I not dared to find her.

This year, as I walked into the library on the first day of school I said something a little bit different. I said, “I made it grandma. I made it Miss Thomas. Thank you both for being in my life.”

Please find your teachers. Please tell them how they helped you or saved you or inspired you. They need to hear it. In my case, not only did my teacher help me and inspire me when I was a kid . . .but again, as a kid all grown up.

Kelly Silwani @silwani4scifi

My second grade class. I’m in the bottom row, second from the right.

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Reader Comments (1)

Oh, Kelly, what a heartfelt post. We are successful because of those whose shoulders we stand on - manors, teachers, grandmothers. This is a wonderful piece. Ty for sharing your heart today.

October 19, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterKathy Halsey

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