Now that I’m a year into college, I feel I finally have enough of a gap between now and high school to reflect on my experiences there with a bit more substance to my thoughts. Today my friend Tiana and I visited my alma mater, Redondo Union High School, and I got to see a bunch of teachers that I haven’t visited in probably close to a year – more due to constraints on my time rather than interest in going, as I would have loved to visit more often.
Though the visit was admittedly a little repetitive in that I was telling the same stories to each different person over and over when asked how college has been going so far, just the fact that I was asked so often really made me realize something. As a student who really cares about school, both the general experience and the actual learning it entails, I found that I really made a lot of friends among the teachers and administrators at my high school. The journalism facet of my life helped in this too, as I often found more reasons to ask about the diverse interests of those higher-ups, which helped me break a lot of barriers and find out a lot more about people than I would have otherwise.
In retrospect, this decision to try to get closer to my teachers and admins was really one of my best decisions I’ve made. Having friends with those in higher positions of authority not only helped me do my job as a journalist, it also helped me find opportunities and get encouragement in my college-hunting endeavors and more. Plus, now that I’ve graduated, these friendships have blossomed with even more benefits.
Today I sat with my AP Government teacher for close to an hour talking about my year in college, about his year teaching the class I once was a part of (which, by the way, sounded pretty exciting given the state of this year’s presidential election) and trading stories about how our college experiences have related to each other. I talked with my old AP Psychology teacher – who recently mailed me a letter commemorating my first year of her class and out of school I might add – about my experiences and got some pieces of advise I never would have gotten as a student wholly ignorant to the college world. My old art teacher, who still has a story I wrote in the school paper about her pinned on the wall, was very eager to take time out of her third period class to talk with me. My old journalism advisor was extremely impressed and proud to hear that I managed to clinch an editor position on the Daily Titan as a second year student there. I even talked with my Principal, who was actually my Principal throughout middle school and followed my class to high school as well. We talked pretty often due to this long-term proximity and her general eagerness to talk with me whenever I needed an administrative perspective for a news story on the paper. The list goes on and on.
Many of these people shaped my life for a long time, four years at least. If not for them, I likely wouldn’t be where I am today. Their classes made me more well-balanced and prepared for realistically intense workloads, their personalities made me happy to practice my interpersonal skills, and their friendliness helped me feel like I could always do more, always push myself to be better. Even now that I’m objectively totally out of their lives, it’s obvious that I’m definitely not out of their minds when I visit them. The fact that they all cared how my life was progressing on top of being more than eager to get more personal about their own lives and thoughts now that I’m not a student honestly feels wonderful, like I always have other family members to return to in a way.
Teachers are incredibly important. I’ve always felt that way, but really I’ve come to appreciate that fact more than ever recently. Some professors I’ve had in college so far have been amazing, others have made promising classes a really trying experience to endure. They make or break not only individual classes, but interests in various subjects as a whole. If there’s any advice I’d give to anyone who asks in relation to school, I’ll always tell them to connect to their teachers on a stronger level than they usually would with a “one year and done” mentality. They can serve as more than just the cornerstones of learning and as sources of advice or expertise, they can serve as really phenomenal friends too.