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The Plot Thickens

Photo: Genessa Gutzait · The Sentry

In Memoriam

In  the early afternoon hours of Saturday, Jan. 25, I received a text from an old friend in Alabama. She told me the sad news that a middle school teacher of ours had passed away at the young age of 68.

The teacher’s name was Beverly Alexander and her death hit me harder than I expected. I was, of course, immediately saddened by learning of her passing, but the thought of her no longer being alive on this earth was the only thing on my mind for much of the remaining weekend.

Ms. A, as we used to call her, taught the gifted students’ free research period. I took her class every year I was able to, a total of five times. She allowed me to do multiple projects about Hollywood and making movies, as well as fostered my Sweeney Todd addiction by letting me listen to the Broadway soundtrack on repeat for a solid month.

Ms. A was by far the best teacher I’ve ever had and perhaps ever will have. My best friend, Dwight, and I kept in contact with her throughout high school, even visiting her house several times, as it was a walkable distance from my alma mater.

I don’t think I will ever know how much Ms. A sacrificed to provide her students with the best education experience possible. I know on more than one occasion she would buy students lunch if they didn’t have any.

Thinking so much about what one teacher meant to me makes me acknowledge how under appreciated teachers are by the government. As the son of a high school art teacher and a university librarian, I know that educational faculty are not paid enough. No, I was never struggling to stay above the poverty line as a child, but there was never a time in which my family wasn’t broke.

Perhaps I’m becoming more political than I intended, but it is a firm belief of mine that teachers should not have to sacrifice their own financial stability in order to provide supplies for classrooms. It makes even less sense for an art teacher to have to buy art supplies for students out of their own paycheck. Maybe if more people in governing positions could admit to just how much their teachers meant to them, then that appreciation (and in return, teacher impact) could be amplified in even more impactful ways than before.

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