07 May

The Gift of Passion 
by Lauren Mansy

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week (May 6-10), we at Blink want to thank each person who works in the education profession. We know the work you do isn’t always easy; however, the impact you have can be life-changing.

In an effort to honor those who have shaped and molded us, each day this week will feature a special blog post from a Blink author about a teacher—or teachers—who had a profound impact in their life.

To all those working in the education field—thank you for believing in us when we didn’t know how to believe in ourselves. We value and admire the work that you do!

The Gift of Passion 
by Lauren Mansy

Growing up, I never dreamed of becoming a writer.

I was always one of those kids that loved a little bit of everything but was never passionate about just one thing. I played a variety of sports, performed with a musical theater group, attended art camp, and was overall pretty content to dabble with various hobbies. I entered college with hopes of becoming a nurse but switched my major to English Literature as my interest in literature grew deeper. My senior year, there were two teachers who helped me discover a love of writing fiction.

From that moment on, all I wanted to do was put words on paper. I felt as if I’d finally found my passion … as if I could finally relate to the teachers who’d so faithfully demonstrated this trait for me in their classrooms. I was able to recognize a passion growing inside of me because they first had showed me what passion truly looked like.

One teacher who’s had a huge impact on my life taught me the importance of always seeking to grow. His classes weren’t easy for me, but his enthusiasm for my work never wavered, even when I struggled to pull my grades up. His steadfast belief that I could improve inspired me to believe in myself.  He erased a fear of failure when it came to my work, and I began to look at his feedback as an opportunity to further develop my writing.  He never sought perfection, but he could tell when I had more to give and encouraged me to do so. His kindness was always coupled with honesty, and to this day years later, I’m grateful whenever I hear his voice in my head prompting me to dig deeper and to persevere on days when words don’t come as easily. Through his passion, he showed how much joy can be found when a blank page turns into one filled with stories that were uniquely my own.

Another teacher who played a major role in my writing journey helped me fall in love with children’s literature. In her class, we read everything from The Hobbit to The Hunger Games, and her enthusiasm was contagious as she actively fostered discussions about characterization, theme, and overall enjoyment of the book. For someone like me who may not be the first to speak up in a larger classroom, she made each student feel comfortable to share our opinions by engaging us all in conversation. She led by example and together as a class, we grew into our own kind of book club.

Our final project was to develop an outline for our own novel. Though I’d always been an avid reader, I hadn’t yet considered writing my own work. This assignment sparked something inside me.  It showed me how much fun it could be to let my imagination run wild and plot a beginning, middle, and an end. Though the prospect of sharing my own work still intimidated me, this teacher’s enthusiasm gave me a deeper understanding of how fiction can be a bridge to bring people together and encourage conversations between individuals who may not have had the chance to previously interact. I came away from her class not only inspired by the power of fiction, but also with a deeper appreciation for each and every author out there, all of whom had been vulnerable enough to share their thoughts, dreams, and stories with the world.

These teachers showed me how important it is not to seek perfection, but they empowered me to believe that it’s perfectly okay to make mistakes because it gives us a chance to grow. It was their willingness to look at every class period as a gift to enlighten and challenge students that taught me how exciting it can be to learn something new. They encouraged me to find my own voice and by giving me the freedom to express myself, they opened up a whole new world for me.

To any teacher who may read this, thank you for what you do. We may not remember every word you speak, but we do remember how it feels when we accomplish something we never thought possible. We remember the times when you’re patient, enthusiastic, encouraging, and demonstrate a heartfelt desire to help us discover our voices and share our stories.

More than anything, I’ll remember your passion. And I promise you that is something I’ll never forget.

-Lauren Mansy