By Aileen Mack
As a student, you experience many different teachers throughout the years. Some you loved to pieces, some who bored you with their voice and subject, and some you did not like whatsoever. But good quality teachers are hard to find. It takes a special teacher to motivate and inspire students, and in my case, the effect didn’t wear off easily.
I’m a senior journalism student at the University of Florida, and I sat in her classroom nearly eight years ago. I was 14, awkward and still trying to understand the world, but we clicked. In the later part of the school year, I began to talk to her about things other than school, like life and whatever seemed to pop into my head.
Harmony Couillard, my eighth grade language arts teacher, through her dedication and passion, helped me fall in love with reading and writing. She’s enthusiastic, passionate and cares about her student’s success. She assigned difficult and thought-provoking assignments because she knew students could handle it and was constantly pushing them to be their best. As a result, I still use some of the skills and vocabulary I learned in her class today.
We built a connection through our interactions, whether it was briefly in the hall switching classes or over email. Through the things she said and how she said them, I could tell she genuinely believed in me. Over the years, teachers have told me I’m a good student and smart, but I typically brushed it off as something they said to everyone. Since she knew me a bit outside of what I showed in the classroom, I believed her when she told me I was a great writer and that she could picture me as a writer or a journalist. It’s stuck with me ever since.
Throughout high school, I noticed I started to enjoy English more, even writing those essays on topics I didn’t really care about for a grade. When I first got to UF, I took different classes to try and figure out what I wanted to major in, including a programming one and telecommunications. But I always had a hunch it was going to be journalism. I genuinely think I wouldn’t have had the confidence to pursue it if it weren’t for Ms. Couillard. Because she believed in me, I started to believe in myself.
This connection has become invaluable to me, and I still do my best to keep her updated on school and what I’m doing a few times a year. I am incredibly thankful for the impact she’s had on me. I would not be the person I am today if it weren’t for her.