Today is a very special day. No, I’m not talking about Star Wars Day, I’m talking about National Teachers Day.

The rollercoaster that teachers have been on for the past year or so has been one bumpy ride, but they have remained on track for their students and oftentimes have brought joy and positivity to students who struggled through the pandemic.

I saw this as the perfect opportunity to call one of my most memorable teachers during the Michael and Maddie show. I wanted him to know the impact that he had on me and my classmates, so I gave my alma mater a ring and tracked him down.

Mr. Gilmartin was my middle school history teacher, and truthfully, the most memorable parts of his class had nothing to do with the curriculum. He taught us valuable lessons about life and the difference between what’s important and what’s not.

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I’ll never forget the specific class where he ushered us outside to the walking paths behind the school. He let us spread out amongst the trail, instructed us to sit quietly for five minutes, and told us to write down every man-made sound we could hear. Then for the next five minutes, we wrote down every nature-made sound, and we compared the lists at the end of those 10 minutes.

In those 10 minutes, he was able to teach us about an individual’s impact on the world. He was able to connect with 11-year-olds on a level that we understood and gave us tangible examples of how the world and everyone in it are connected.

Teachers like Mr. Gilmartin do more than just teach what’s on a lesson plan. They see the goodness in their students and encourage that goodness to grow, and they show you how to look beyond your notebook and textbooks.

Here’s to you, Mr. Gilmartin. Thank you for breaking the mold of academia when I was younger and showing me that there is more to life than what’s right in front of me.

Happy National Teachers Day.