In 9th grade my English teacher would say to us, “PEOPLE, we are going to begin an essay today.”

At first I thought it was a mistake. People? Really? But again and again she referred to us with a word that meant to me respect, acceptance and relevance. We were important to her, we were important in the classroom, we were important period. It completely changed how I viewed myself, what I might be capable of, and gave me confidence to find my voice in a subject that was never going to be my best, I wanted to do my best, to rise to the occasion; it propelled me forward. It was clearly one of the best learning experiences I ever had. Personal note: from a rather rural district high school in Canada, I went on to the University of Toronto, and acquired a Masters of Science degree.

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