A Tribute to My Teacher:
Occasionally, a person comes into our lives who makes a powerful, positive difference.
Have you ever had a relationship with a teacher or someone else who believed in you and helped you learn to believe in yourself? This blog is dedicated to my high school music teacher and long-time friend, Carole (Saucier) Pyant.
I want to share my heartfelt gratitude and our story from my perspective. This tale began many years ago when you were my teacher. It was September in Room 329, Beginning Chorus. I was a sophomore and you were my new teacher. Although I knew next to nothing about singing in a choir, I was an eager student. Our first song was Wade in the Water, a spiritual I love to this day. My joy for listening to and singing spirituals clearly began with you.
In class, you had clear expectations. You were funny and kind in a special sort of way. As I came to know you, you were especially kind to me, and I could make you laugh. I knew from the beginning that you were someone I liked, Mrs. Saucier. Gail and I and a few of our friends called you Sauc, remember?
Soon it was spring and time for senior choir auditions. I anxiously sang for you. You accepted me as an alto, later to sing in the tenor section. Some years later you told me you almost didn’t admit me to senior choir until you saw how much I wanted it. Let me remind you that you also said accepting me was one of the best decisions you ever made. Your candid comment was one of the most significant things anyone has ever told me and nurtured my strengths and self-efficacy; made me feel significant and cared about; let me know you liked me for who I was, and saw who I could become.
As a junior and senior, I would walk all over school to find you, just to talk for a few minutes. On days you were absent, it didn’t feel so great to be at school. Sometimes I would go to the office saying I didn’t feel well, because with your absence I didn’t see much reason to be there.
My life would have been very different if you hadn’t been so kind, hadn’t seen me the way you did. Remember when I told you I didn’t I want to go to college? Thank you for insisting that I “must go to college” and making me promise you that I would. Four degrees and um-teen certifications later, I think you were right! Do you remember that you were one of the people to whom I dedicated my doctoral clinical research project? I studied resilience and the factors that strengthen people to bounce back from life’s adversities, citing research showing that supportive relationships with adults are significant to buffer children and teens from life’s challenges. Sounds a lot like my relationship with you during high school. You saw my strengths, held my dreams, generously shared your hope and wisdom, and lent me courage and perspective.