If you only learn one thing, learn to live.

It’s amazing the effect other people can have on us. Another human being can change the way we think about everything from a piece of literature to our outlook on life. Our friends can affect the way we dress or talk or tell stories. Our parents help shape our personality, manners, and general views on life. Our teachers show us not only how to make a living, but also how to make a life.

Recently, I interviewed a former teacher for a faculty profile story in journalism. I asked him about things like what affects his teaching, why he tells stories, and even, if there was a teacher that had a particular effect on him either in high school or college. His answers made me even more confident in my decision to interview him. He said “He embodied everything I admired not only in a teacher but in a person” about his 11thgrade U.S. History teacher. That is how I feel about him. And every other communications teacher I have had in high school.

He was my teacher for 9th grade honors communications and again, in 10th grade, for American Literature. His classes changed my perspective about life and who I was as an individual. When he told me that one of his reasons for telling stories was to show he was a teenager once too, everything made sense. They really helped us open up and unite as a class.

My 10th grade communications teacher was also my grammar teacher in 11th grade, and as a senior, I have her for world literature. The teacher I interviewed asked how I felt about having a teacher that many times, and I told him the truth. I am overjoyed to have her a third time. Even today after school, I realized how lucky I am to have her as a teacher. After three years together, we have the most amazing teacher-student relationship. I feel that I can ask her anything about school, but I can also share my excitement or fear or anxiety about things other than school.

I feel the same way with my AP Language and Composition teacher from 11th grade. Last Friday, while every other high school student leapt out the door to the weekend, I stayed to catch up with her. After AP Comp I was her teacher’s assistant for a term. It gave me the opportunity to get to know her better. We talked about everything from college to preparing for a career in writing. She encouraged my passion for writing and made me even more exciting about it. For that, I will be forever grateful.

And because writing teachers happen to be the best kind, I have to tell you about my creative writing teacher from last year. At first, I felt a little bit intimidated, and I didn’t really know what to think of her. But as the semester progressed, I realized how much she helped improve my writing and the way I looked it. After AP Comp, I felt so much more prepared. But this was a different type of writing, and there is still so much to learn in fictional writing and non-fiction writing. Most importantly, my creative writing teacher made me stop limiting myself. I would say “Well, I’d love to do this, but—” And she’d say “Why? Why can’t you do that?” She inspired me to go after what I love and not let myself hold myself back.

High school has been such an incredible experience because of these teachers. I wanted to give them the credit, because, after all, without them, where would I be? I wouldn’t have the knowledge. I wouldn’t have the writing skills. I wouldn’t have the courage to go after my dreams.

These people mean the world to me.