It’s National Teacher Appreciation Week, and the National Education Association wants to create a digital lovefest for teachers with the hashtag #thankateacher. I thought I would take the opportunity to talk about one of my favorite teachers. Ms. Ridenhour is no longer with us, but I am really grateful that I got the chance to thank her before she passed. In fact, for several years after graduating I would stop by my high school to say hello and update her on my life. She had a huge influence on me. I met Ms. Ridenhour my sophomore year. She taught my honors English class and she loved books. Her whole classroom was decorated in literature paraphernalia. Her most important value was to instill a love of reading in her students, and I absolutely caught the bug from her. She had us keeping a journal of reflections on the books we read, but also encouraged us to write our own poetry. I can say that I got my love of reading AND of writing from Ms. Ridenhour. The following year I had her again, for an honors literature class. Over the summer she gave us a suggested reading list, and I read every single book on the list (and journaled it as well.) I admired her and wanted to please her, and I was so proud to turn in that journal the first day of school. She was always proud of me, and always encouraged me. My senior year, I had Ms. Ridenhour for an AP literature class, and I also took her humanities course as an elective. As a senior a lot of my friends were taking phone-it-in electives but I loved her classes so much. I loved learning about theater and architecture and art. I loved her class so much that when she taught the same class at a local community college in the evening, I signed up to take it as well. I went to the Museum of Modern Art recently and I couldn’t help thinking about Ms. Ridenhour . She is the one who introduced me to most of those artists. I also thought about her as I walked around Jerusalem, and recognized so much of the architecture from what I learned in her humanities classes. And of course, I think about her as my kids exhibit my same passion for reading, that was inspired by such an incredible and compassionate teacher. Have a teacher you want to thank? Use the hashtag #thankateacher on facebook, instagram, or twitter and share how they’ve inspired you! This post is a compensated partnership with the National Education Association for #thankateacher. All thoughts and opinions about why teachers are awesome are, of course, my own!