Kyle Troutman: Thank a teacher!

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Mrs. Bailey, Mrs. Flynn, Mr. Foster and Prof. Rhodes.

These four and many more made an impact on me as a child. From neighbors to coaches and family friends, it takes a village to raise children, and a portion of that rearing is thanks to these four individuals ó my teachers.

May 2-6 is Teacher Appreciation Week, and I want to take a minute to give some love to those who had the biggest impacts on me as a kid.

Mrs. Bailey was my second-grade teacher, a no-mess woman who was one of the first to advocate for me. At that age, I was a bit of a tyrant and acted out a lot. Mrs. Bailey was quick to take me aside and redirect my shenanigans into something constructive.

She pushed for me to be put in another class for reading, because at that time, reading in her class was not challenging me. She even babysat me a couple times, and her son and I would play video games and basketball for hours.

I give her all the credit in the world for putting me on a straight path. She passed of cancer before I graduated high school, and I wish I could tell her how important she was in person.

Mrs. Flynn was my eighth-grade homeroom English teacher. She is maybe the first responsible for fostering my love of writing. But, why I respect her so much and donít recall my other middle school teachers as much probably comes back to that she was the person who had to help us 12-year-olds make some kind of sense of 9/11.

Her poise and emotional connection to our class in that moment turned her more into mom than teacher, and she handled it gracefully.

In high school, I had a handful of teachers that had an impact on me and I still correspond with many of them. However, Mr. Foster was my favorite.

To be fair, not many others had a shot. He was my sixth-grade basketball coach and became my high school English and creative writing teacher (I loved him so much I took two of his classes).

Mr. Fosterís ability to challenge our views of the world and find how to express them in a healthy and ultimately productive manner, was instrumental in shaping how I receive the world, react to it and manage it.

It took until my final two years of college for me to have another similar teacher-student relationship. Professor Rhodes was my teacher for multiple journalism classes, including photography and writing classes.

He and I have a similar demeanor, similar eye for photography and similar concept for the importance and future of journalism. He was the newspaper sponsor for The Forum, and though I had more of a penchant for sports, Prof. Rhodes thrust me into the News Editor position.

His challenges to me and guidance of me over the years ó I have called him for advice multiple times while working here ó is something I hold in the highest regard.

These people changed my life all for the better, and all because they were passionate in educating children not only with the books, but through the heart.

Many of them work extra hours tutoring or coaching, and more than 90 percent have spent their own money on their classrooms, according to the National Center of Education Statistics.

On top of that, teachers are tasked with molding young minds in a divisive world where differing opinions can leave educators left in the middle, trying to help students make sense of administration-parent issues.

Being a teacher is a challenge, and ours locally are up to it.

If you are reading this, thank a teacher.

Kyle Troutman has served as the editor of the Cassville Democrat since 2014. In 2017, he was named William E. James/Missouri Outstanding Young Journalist for daily newspapers. He may be reached at 417-847-2610 or editor@cassville-democrat.com.