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Doug Moffat: Math • Rippowam Middle School This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


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Dear Mr. Moffat,

Thank you for saving my life.

Many students can say that a teacher ­“ruined” their life after failing them, or that they “changed” their life after showing them a new way to go about things, but very few students can say that a teacher saved their life.

I can.

Besides being the smartest, most helpful, and most entertaining math teacher I’ve ever had, you saved my life.

The day when you, my usually vibrant and joke-cracking teacher, were solemn and silent, is one that I will never forget. You were staring at your computer screen with one hand covering your mouth; we were all unsure of what to do as “Moffle Waffle’s” eyes started misting. There is something about a grown man becoming vulnerable and sad that is so incredibly powerful. Most teachers never let their walls down for fear of losing students’ respect.

My respect for you tripled that day.

You had just found out about the death of ­another one of your students. Another. As you started telling us about her and how much you were dreading going to another student’s funeral, I knew I could never commit suicide.

As a full disclaimer, I am a happy and healthy kid with family and friends who love me, good grades, hopes and dreams for the future, and ­absolutely no intention of killing myself, but there are times when life gets rough. Though I know that suicide is “a permanent solution to a temporary problem,” if I am ever on the edge, I will always remember you, and find my way back. Whenever the “going gets tough,” I will know that I must just keep going, no matter how hard it may seem. I have a responsibility to make sure you, “Mo-ffat, Mo-money,” never have to attend another student’s funeral.

Many would describe a great teacher by how much progress a student makes in that class, or if a pneumonic device they taught stays in their students’ minds for years to come, or if they got a student to stay in or appreciate school. Well, my great teacher is different.

You taught me that there is always someone who cares, and that is more valuable than words can ­explain – and much more valuable than a pneumonic device. You taught me that there will always be someone who will be sad if I am gone … that no matter how dark a corner I’m in, there is always someone in the next room who would hate to lose me.

Thank you for ensuring that I will live my life to its fullest and never cut it short. That is a priceless gift that no other teacher will ever be able to give me.

At graduation, when you shook my hand, handed me my diploma, smiled, and gave me the superlative “brilliant” out loud, I smiled back and gave you the superlative “superhero” in my heart.

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





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