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One Smiley Gem This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

By , kerry, Ireland

I was sixteen when I first spoke to Ms. Costelloe. She asked me where I got my coat. I was painfully shy and barely managed to spit out the name of the boutique. The following year, still hopelessly shy, I joined her English class. Illness soon took over my life after that, and from there Ms. Costelloe became my rock, and would continue to be so over the next three years.
You see, I suffer from Bipolar Affective Disorder and Social Anxiety Disorder and it has shaken my world. I have spent over a year in psychiatric hospitals, experiencing overwhelming highs which have always crashed into plummeting lows. Put school work into the mix of this and you have hell on earth. When I thought I had no one to turn to, I found an ally in the smile of one particular teacher.
She has not only opened my mind up to the wonderful works of Sylvia Plath and Emily Bronte; she has not only encouraged my own creative writing; she has not only inspired me to read more, create more; she has given me a zest for life, she has shown me that I do not need to run away from my diagnosis, instead she has helped me come to terms with it.
The first time I went to hospital I found it almost impossible to imagine continuing on in school. I was seventeen and scared of both leaving and staying in the walls of education. I was cajoled into going back for one half day, first class English. After the forty minutes of Wuthering Heights, the bell rang, ending the lesson.  Ms. Costelloe asked me to stay back. She spoke softly and kindly about how I was missed and how she was happy to see me back. It gave me a sense of place, a class to look forward to, a reason to come back to school.
I let myself fall in love with great poets and harrowing novels. I wrote reams of short stories. I didn’t know what illness I was battling with yet, but I knew reading and writing soothed it. Not to say it was all plain sailing from there on end. But Ms. Costelloe has picked me up every time. She has calmed me down from many a panic attack and her words have given me the courage to face my diagnosis (the scariest thing I have ever done).
She is not just an English teacher, amazing at that as she is; she is also a teacher of life. She has given me life lessons that I carry with me each and every day. I can honestly say she is the reason I am still alive, living not just existing. She is truly the best teacher any student could hope to come across. She is a gem, and I thank her for all she has thought me in three short years.




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