Wednesday, November 18, 2020


Wilma Supik was a religion editor for the Bergen Record. In 1978 she wrote a piece in that newspaper in praise of someone who had changed her life, gave her the strength, the confidence to become a writer. She did not know where this person was, or whether the words on that page would ever find her eyes. 

The woman whose virtue she extolled had been her high school English teacher in the early 1940's, well over three decades removed from the sentiments Ms. Supik felt compelled to express. That woman was my mom.

I was reminded of that thank you note earlier this week. My first crush, almost 60 years ago, was on my fifth grade teacher. She was young, pretty, with a smile that put me at ease and, in the same moment, made my heart flutter. I don't know that I ever stopped having a crush on her.

As the fates would have it, with a bit of intervention from my mom and dad, by seventh grade that teacher became my aunt. And there this tale might have ended, but for the actions of one of my fifth grade classmates.

Several days back, she posted a picture of our class of 1963 on Facebook. The ensuing discussion among those whose young faces graced that page led to a suggestion to try to reach out to the teacher in the middle of that photo.

Yesterday and today, I have received copies of many thank you notes directed to my Aunt, with the understanding that more may be forthcoming. These words were intended for someone who had been out of each of their lives for nearly six decades. Yet, the details they recalled were as if all this had transpired but yesterday. And the feelings they discussed of the effect she had on their existences, some of whom found a stability in the classroom that was not evident elsewhere, were profound and clearly as present in 2020 as they were when they sat at their desks so many lifetimes before.

I have been graced to have known two women whose lasting impact on those they taught was far beyond anything they could have imagined.

This is my thank you note to both of them and to all the teachers who have been a positive force on those who came under their wing.

Thank you for shining your light on us. No matter the years that pass and the distance between us, please understand that light has never been extinguished. And the warmth from that light is still felt in each of our hearts.


Anonymous said...

Unbelievable. I hardly remember a teacher I had....what a testament to their greatness. They was beloved.


Anonymous said...

wow! Just beautiful-paying it forward to those who influenced our young souls. The best tribute I get as a Nurse Practitioner is all the male and female patients I cared for over 20 years who have entered the nursing profession saying it was my influence that led them on this path. You never know how a small kindness can change a life-if only those in power right now understood this concept.


Anonymous said...



Anonymous said...

A lesson to us all on the precious gift of giving and getting gratitude.


Anonymous said...

This is so beautiful!


Anonymous said...

This piece has touched my heart because since the advent of social media my husband who taught middle school in the 60's and 70's has been contacted by students who remember the positive impact he had on their lives. I thank them for reaching out as I thank you for this post.