This letter of thanks is part of the UNFUCD “Thank a teacher” mission, which encourages us to write a letter of thanks to someone who has helped shape the person we are today.
Dear Mr. Houston,
You may or may not remember me – after all, you must have seen thousands (if not tens of thousands) of boys and girls pass through your history class at Hawick High School during your time there.
I wonder what you’re doing now – I can’t see you on the school’s website, and you must be retired by now.
But whatever you’re doing, and whether you’d remember me or not, I wanted to take the time to thank you for some very important moments that helped shape my love for both stories and history.
More Than Just a History Teacher
Ever since the first day I walked into your class when I was 12, I knew there was something different about you.
For a start, you looked like no teacher I’d ever had.
Compared to the suited, grey-haired and stuffy teachers I’d been used to, you were a lanky, scruffy, and heavily-bearded individual with a penchant?for the ugliest wooly sweaters.
Add to that the fact you spoke like your students, as opposed to the “educated Scottish” that so many of your peers used, and it immediately made you a different proposition.
But it was when you taught that the magic happened.
I’d always been interested in history, but you made it come alive. So much so that it was my second highest mark at exam time, after English (which, ironically enough, you inspired me to be better at).
Your description of battle scenes during the wars you spoke of; the knowledge of the time you spoke of; your passion for the topic at hand. All of this and more entranced me, and many like me.
When you spoke, history was a living thing as opposed to something we had to learn about, because it was part of the curriculum.
You embedded characters that may or may not have been real, just to ensure we all related to the lesson at hand.
You even made up ghost stories to make a particularly long lesson more fun. And for that, I thank you.
Instilling the Love of Stories and Words
But it wasn’t just your amazing history lessons that are the reason for this letter, although that would have been reason enough.
No, it’s your unselfishness to your muses that saw you encourage me to better apply myself to English that I also want to thank you.
You saw how rapt I was as you recounted your mix of fact and fiction. You saw how I’d daydream at times, adding my own take to your descriptions.
And instead of punishing me for not paying attention, you encouraged me to expand on these daydreams and write down stories around them.
You encouraged me to share them with the class, and when the class enjoyed them as much as I did, you said something to me that I’ll never forget.
Words and stories are important, Danny. But it’s the belief in these words and stories that make them real. Always believe.
That advice led me to become a straight A student in English, where I was among the top three percent in Scotland for that year’s English exam.
It led me to write?for the school magazine, where a mini-series of mine was voted best of the year.
More than anything, though, it led to my love of writing that sees me penning this letter on a blog that’s been around for almost 10 years now. And if popular opinion is anything to go by,
And if popular opinion is anything to go by, you really need to love blogging to keep at it when it’s such an unfashionable pastime. Or so they say…
So, Mr. Houston.
I know I’ll never be able to thank you enough for all you’ve done for me – you probably aren’t even aware. But whether you ever see this letter or not, know that I’ll never forget my time in your class.
Teachers get a hard time. Students can be mean to them, parents can be too over-expectant of them, and government policies don’t always see the value they bring, just the money they cost.
If nothing else, this is one person who sees teachers for all the wonderful things they are, and for one teacher in particular, for how a bearded scruff made the difference of a lifetime.
Thank you, Mr. Houston, for everything.
Note: As mentioned at the start of this post, this is part of the UNFUCD mission to write a letter of thanks to someone who helped shape the person you are today.?
The mission is an ongoing part of the UNFUCD goal to “create happiness one day at a time”. You can learn more about UNFUCD and its goals here.