In September of grade 10 I walked into her room with my summer assignment polished and my insides an absolute mess.
I’d heard so much about the harsh grader she is,
The high expectations she’d set for her students
But that didn’t phase me.
Two weeks into Honors English with her I started understanding the beauty of word choice and sentence structure.
Every vocab quiz an opportunity to make room in my mind for more eloquence and precision,
Every essay a body of thought, trimmed to perfection and ending on a delicate chord,
Every short story a lesson
Not about which color highlighter to annotate with,
But a lesson
About humanity, about culture, about people and pain and values and real matters like love.
In Ms. Zabaneh’s 10th grade classroom I traveled the world while sitting comfortably in my seat.
And then I entered IB
I entered IB and things got a little shaky.
Well, my social life was unsteady and I wasn’t performing as well in school as I had in the past;
Thoughts about my purpose troubled me on a daily basis and when the school campus was an ignited matchstick, with its flame inching closer and closer to my terrified fingertip, my English teacher was a scented candle.
Ready to comfort me and rub my back and feed me chocolate digestives and tell me all about the great things I’ll do-
And the great person I’ll be
Her classroom was a sanctuary.
Not just for me, but for everyone
An open door to an open heart,
She nurtured us all pushed us to reach heights we didn’t even know existed.
I’ll be recording this the day after graduation
And after the grand finale last night, I can wholeheartedly promise you
That I’ll be the great person you saw in me the day I walked into your classroom
I’ll wrap a package of my first publication with flower stems and warmth and place a box of sweet chocolate in the bag before shipping it off to you.
And you’ll smile
With your cute laugh and motherly eye-roll,
Because you’ll know
That this was all you.