Today is National Teacher Appreciation Day, and I want to salute those who make a difference.  I'm also going to use this opportunity to share with you the story of my favorite teacher, John Bates.

School was a challenge for me.  I loved English and History, but Math and Science were my weak points.  I'll spare you the specifics, but when my senior year came around, I was faced with the real possibility of not graduating.

Mr. Bates took an interest in me and was determined to help me pass my last year of math.  It wasn't easy, but he pushed me.  He pushed me hard.  I'm not exaggerating, I wasn't sure I was graduating until the last couple of weeks of the school year.  If not for John Bates, I'd probably still be attending Hightstown High today.

He spent hours with me, and I'm not talking about one or two days.  I'm talking about a whole marking period.  He told me that he would put as much effort into getting me to the finish line as I put into the effort.

Mr. Bates never made me feel bad, and never lost faith in me.  I'm sure I frustrated him at times, but he never showed it.

The cool thing is that I wasn't his only student of interest.  He was young and in many ways one of us.  He was a student's teacher.  He spoke our language, he looked like us, and he even liked the same music.

So, for all of our hardworking, dedicated teachers, we salute you.  You may not see the results of your work today but know that your efforts can make a life-long difference in someone.  John Bates was a game-changer for me.

Oh, and if anyone knows the whereabouts of Mr. John Bates, I'd love to make contact with him.  I owe him a thank you.


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