It takes a village


Rebekah McDowell

Top: Me and Avery Moore when we were younger Bottom: One of my senior pictures taken just outside of Castlewood, South Dakota – my home away from home

Senior year is almost over. As it comes to a close, I have been doing a lot of reflecting on the teachers that have played a role in my growing up and in my school career. There are so many teachers I have had that changed my life in so many ways, and I don’t know how to thank them all.

Mrs. Katt, you were my very first teacher at Ada Elementary. My first real school experience. I don’t remember much from back then, but I do remember some things. I remember playing house in the corner of your classroom. I remember learning to draw my letters on little chalkboards at one of the tables. I remember storytime on the circle rug in the middle of the room. I remember consistently forgetting to leave my things in my cubby, and I remember Spot, the dog. I remember taking him home and teaching him how to ride a bike. I remember I insisted on making a little helmet for him. I remember becoming best friends with Avery Moore and Peyton Price in the safety of your four walls and playing with them every day on the playground. Thank you. Thank you for teaching me what school is, and for helping me to find the little girl I was and the little girl that is still a piece of me.

Mr. Skinner, I don’t remember a lot from first grade either. Most of my elementary school years are a blur now, but I remember enough. I remember having homework every single day because I wouldn’t stop talking. I remember competing to read the most because whoever did got to shave your head at the end of the year. I remember one time, before one of our breaks, you ate some fish food because we said you wouldn’t. I remember playing a game with our calculators. You would give us a minute to do 1+1 as many times as we could to see who could get the highest number. I remember one time, this was on Halloween, you had to help us fix our car. I don’t remember what was wrong with it, but I remember you were dressed as Goldilocks. Thank you. Thank you for teaching me that I can’t talk all the time or I will get homework. Thank you for teaching me that I love to read.

Mrs. Redmond, your class is the one from Ada that I remember the best. I remember one time, you put me across the room from Ryan (I can’t remember his last name), and we kept making each other laugh from across the room. I remember desk cleanout days when you had to help me because I was such a disaster. I remember Halloween picture day and field day. I remember the constant telling me to quiet down because no matter where you put me, I would talk. Thank you. Thank you for putting up with the mess that I was. Thank you for giving us a good last year at Ada.

Mrs. Hall, I remember most of your class completely. I remember both years well. I remember belting Hamilton at the top of our lungs, annoying everyone in our class. I remember stressing about our “teach-a-unit” test and getting it graded. I don’t, however, remember doing any work. Even though I don’t think I did anything, somehow, my work all got done and I passed the exam. I remember making our own civilizations. I remember Rise to Rebellion and the hatred I held for that book. I remember playing Kahoot and trying to get our group mates to participate. I remember how much I loved your class, and how much it made me love history. Thank you. Thank you for being my favorite teacher for two years, and potentially doing all of my work for me.

Z, four years strong. Band has been one of my favorite classes since band camp 2019. I will never forget that week, and every single band camp since then. Band has been a class that has gotten me through some of my hardest days. You and your class have always been there for me 100%. I never have to wonder if I am going to laugh every time I walk into that room. Band has seen my blood, sweat, and tears. You taught me I love music. You have always taken the time to sit and listen to me, and other students when we have something to say. You have taken our words and applied them, sometimes too literally. I will never forget what band has been for me. You have taught me resiliency, musicianship, and teamwork. Thank you. Thank you for giving me a class I enjoy and an opportunity to love music. Thank you for giving me the trust and the chance to be drum major.

Mrs. Lipke, math has always been my least favorite subject. I have never been good at it, and I have never liked it. You made math fun. Third hour was one of my favorite hours freshman year. I don’t know what about your class made me feel this way, all I know is that I did. I really enjoyed Algebra 1, and I have appreciated the support you have shown me since ninth grade. I have appreciated every time you say hi to me in the hallway and every time you comment on something I am doing. Thank you. Thank you for making me like math.

Mr. George, sophomore year was a little rough. I was going through a lot, and never once did you give up on me. You always made it a point to check on me and to make me laugh when I was in school. At the beginning of the year, you told us your goal was to change our lives, and I can honestly say you did that. You were one of the first teachers I have ever had that so openly believed in me and never let me give up. Even when I told you I couldn’t do something, you either gave me the courage to do it or told me “That sucks you’re doing it anyway.” You have taught me so much about myself. You taught me how truly resilient I am. You taught me that I really can write. Thank you. Thank you for never ever giving up on me. Thank you for pushing me past my comfort zone, and for making me realize I can do anything.

Mr. Labenz, you changed how I viewed the things I wanted to do with my life. APUSH was not quite for me. I think it was the timing, but I just couldn’t do it. You came to our TED Talks at the end of the year. I did mine about how I wanted to be a teacher. I was sitting in the hallway outside of your classroom working on my final exam project. You walked out, looked at me, and said “You are exactly the kind of person I would want to work with. You are going to be an amazing teacher.” I don’t know if you remember that, but I will never forget it. The timing of it was perfect. I was at a point, because of some things that had been said to me, that I was really doubting myself. You helped me realize that I could do anything. Thank you. Thank you for helping me see that I can do it. Thank you for believing in me.

Thank you for changing my life in more ways than one. You all have taught me lessons I will never forget.

Mr. Fisher, you never fail to make English both fun and interesting. I have learned so many life lessons in your classroom, including what potential jobs I could have in the future (most of them have been gross). I have never failed to find something to laugh about in your classroom. You have done so much for me in the last 2 years, and I really appreciate it. You have further instilled my love of English. Thank you. Thank you for making school a little more enjoyable, and a little more exciting.

Mr. Carhart, I think your class might be one of my favorite classes in my entire school career. Every day (that I show up anyway) I have something to laugh about. I promise I’m not glaring at you, even though you think I am. You gave me some of my best friends by constantly sitting us together last year. Kyle, Riley, and Noah are three of my favorite people in the world, and we talk about World History all the time. The boys still make fun of me for losing in the contest thing with the people in history, and we all laugh about the things we did in that class all the time. Thank you. Thank you for making the three classes I’ve had with you some of my favorites. Thank you for playing a role in my getting to know some of my best friends.

To each of my teachers, whether I wrote to you in this column or not, thank you. Thank you for giving me a reason to keep going to school. Thank you for making school something I mostly enjoyed. Thank you for changing my life in more ways than one. You all have taught me lessons I will never forget.