Magazine, website & books written by teens since 1989

Jackie Hand: English • Union Grove High School This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

Custom User Avatar
More by this author
Educator seems like a meaningless word compared to Ms. Jackie Hand. She deserves a title of merit, one awarded to the great mentors of the world's most renowned tales. She's my Miyagi, my Obi Wan, my Feeny, my Dumbledore and ­McGonagall. I had heard horror stories about Ms. Hand's freshman honors English class. I had heard that she was the toughest teacher in Henry County. But since I always had good relationships with teachers, I went into Ms. Hand's class cautious, but calm.

Ms. Hand is a small, older woman with gray hair and the most fantastic eyes. They look feline in coloring, but behind them churns passion and vitality. I was certain she was of another earth; teachers just don't burn with that kind of passion anymore. She had great expectations of her students – in the form of enormous amounts of homework and tests. My peers looked at it all and her otherworldly expectations as diabolical overkill. They didn't understand that Ms. Hand was teaching us about life in the piles of Romeo and Juliet analysis and grammar packets. She was teaching us hard work and diligence through vocabulary tests and four-week projects. I understood, because in her occasional mind-blowing lectures about Poe and Shakespeare, I found my passion.

Ms. Hand taught me to read beyond the twelve-point black letters on pages. She taught me to see the story unfold and look for its meaning in the greater fibers of the universe. She taught me diligence and perseverance with lofty homework assignments. She taught me to love words through strict vocabulary tests. I love literature due to her in-depth and engaging discussions. Ms. Hand taught me to love learning and that is a debt I can never repay.

But her lessons extended beyond the classroom. During my freshman year, she faced various trials involving her mother's health. Her will and ability to work through those emotionally trying times taught me that even when life tries to keep you down, it cannot deny you the will to get back up. Her struggles taught me to value every moment I have with my family and those I hold dear.

During my junior year, Ms. Hand fell ill. She was absent most of the second semester. But the moment I saw her face in the hallway again, I could not contain my excitement. She suffered visibly with the paralysis of her face, but that did not keep her from smiling as only she knew how – a sneaky and playful smile that appeared in the midst of a passionate discussion. It did not keep her from always speaking to me when she saw me in the halls. It did not keep her from working her students to the point of exhaustion.

Ms. Hand is not a teacher of English. She is a teacher of passion, life, and self-learning. She ­deserves all the awards and recognition possible. She deserves to be written into the history books alongside Einstein and Socrates, not for any single achievement or discovery, but for being the greatest mentor and role model this world could ever know. She deserves my thanks more than anyone in the world, and so I thank her the way she taught me how: with writing.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




Post a Comment

Be the first to comment on this article!

Site Feedback