By Chuck Kelley
In celebration of Teacher Appreciation Day, I remember some of the teachers who shaped my life:
Thank you, Mrs. Hill, for helping an energetic boy fall in love with reading. I read every day of my life without exception.
Thank you, Mrs. Newton, for helping me fall in love with history. I read some history book every week to this day.
Thank you, Mr. Reeves, for teaching me how to research a topic and how to write a paper. Numerous papers, articles, essays, and books later, I am still at it, and will be researching and writing all afternoon today.
Thank you, Mrs. Holloway, for giving me my first failing grade ever in the first six weeks of typing class. After finding out no one in my family had ever received a failing grade in anything, you made teaching me to type your personal project for the rest of the year, earning me the award for Most Improved Student in a class on awards day that year. Since the purchase of my first computer in 1983, I have done some form of touch typing nearly every day of my life since.
Thank you, Mr. Reid, for making your lectures on Western Civilization at Baylor so mesmerizing, I never missed a class. I took few notes. But I remembered everything. I studied for finals by closing my eyes and thinking through my memories of each lecture.
Thank you, Dr. George Harrison, for making Hebrew so compelling I did not mind that I had to put in more work for you than in any other of my MDiv classes and take tests that were impossibly difficult. (Translate Isaiah 6, locate, meaning break down, all finite verbs, and discuss the meaning of the chapter all in one hour)
Thank you, Dr. Harold Bryson, for making the study of preaching so fascinating I did a ThD to study it in depth, and for all the conversations you had with me when school was not in session.
Thank you, Dr. Joe Cothen, for showing me deep knowledge enhances practical skill, even though you gave me the hardest final exam I ever had, and asked the mother of all test questions on the written exams for my doctoral program: “Discuss the history of preaching from its ancient beginnings through the modern day, including all major men, movements, issues, and books.” And that was only one of the questions that day. Wow!
Thank you, Dr. Paige Patterson, for teaching me from my earliest days the joy of learning, the responsibility of a conservative to read liberal books too, and perhaps the most important lesson of my life in showing me that people you have loved and helped telling lies and distortions about you is never an excuse for becoming bitter and angry and turning away from your mission.
These are a few of the memories of my teachers. Every one of my teachers made a mark on my life. Thank you one and all for investing yourself in me. Today I am the person you helped me become. Those who have the high calling of being a teacher rarely get to know the full impact they make on the endless stream of students who pass through their classrooms. But never forget teachers, we who are the taught will never forget you. Thank you!
Chuck Kelley is former president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. This editorial first appeared on drchuckkelley.com.