The Kindness Of A Teacher

“They may forget what you said but they will never forget how you made them feel.”

Mrs. Primm was my English teacher sophomore year in high school. At first I didn’t think too much about her, she seemed like any other teacher I had ever had. But I still remember where I was when I heard the other students whispering excitedly about her in the halls, “Did you hear about that English teacher? She is a badass!”

Mrs. Primm was once a nun. One day she went to a protest and ended up getting arrested. And that is when it happened: She fell in love. A fellow protester was also in jail, and he ended up becoming her husband. They got married and had a beautiful life together. Sadly he had passed away, but she still spoke of him with overwhelming love.

15 was a hard age for me. I was cutting myself on and off, struggling with PTSD, and was extremely suicidal. I remember feeling disconnected to most kids my age, and I hated the crowds of the lunch room. I don’t remember how it started, but it became common practice for my best friend Julianna and I to go hang out with Mrs. Primm after we ate our lunch. She would tell us about her life and about her husband. I recall feeling honored when she brought out a photo album and we finally got to see the man she adored. She looked down at her husband and said, “I would say that I hope you find the best man in the world to marry, but I already took him.” Though she said it in a joking manner, I knew she believed those words to be undeniably true. She would tell us about how they used to take homeless teenage girls into their home and care for them. She was a beautiful soul, and she gave me hope. She was the kind of person that I wanted to be.

I ended up writing a paper for her class that was troublesome to say the least. With some digging I was actually able to find this essay. Here is a section of what 15 year old me had to say,

“After five endless years the hurt is still there, and my mind questions if it will ever be truly eliminated. I am told everything heals with time but I have never been a patient person. My past made my future, I let it. I let it change my view of the world, view of myself, and view of men. The world seemed colder, I seemed worthless, and men just disgusted me. I even let those views make me who I am today. It made me feel the need to take it out on myself. It made me hurt my body. I have stopped, but there are always scars. Scars are permanent things, they never fully go away, and they are a constant reminder of your experiences and on top of all that it is a reminder of my imperfection. They aren’t pretty, they aren’t special, except to the person who has the scar. Sometimes I wonder if what people see is the same thing I see as I look at my reflection. I see a weak person who cannot find their way, but what do others see?”

I still remember the sinking feeling I got in my stomach when Mrs. Primm informed me that she had to send me to the counselor with my paper. I felt angry, betrayed, but maybe a little relieved. You see, deep down I knew I needed help. I was drowning. The counselor called my parents and it wasn’t an easy conversation, but it helped address my depression with my parents who wanted to help. This meeting did lead me to get treatment, and a year later I finally opened up about my past sexual abuse.

To this day I am thankful for Mrs. Primm. She was a mentor and someone I really looked up to. She offered this awkward teen a place to sit during lunch, and gave me a safe place to come to at school. Teachers can have a strong impact on our lives, and I know Mrs. Primm will stay in my heart forever. This past Christmas I got the urge to write her and tell her thank you.

Me: Merry Christmas! I was just scrolling through my Facebook and saw your post. It made me think of how much you encouraged me in high school. I was going through a horrible time when I was a teenager. I was suicidal, self harming, and processing through past sexual abuse. Your story and passion to help others always stuck out to me.  It always inspired me, and it still does. I just wanted to let you know, your light shines so brightly. I tell my husband about your impact on my life all the time. God bless you

Mrs. Primm: Thank you so much!  I’m glad I was able to be a little light in some of your darkness and even more glad if it continues to be an impact.  Do know that I still care. May you and yours experience the joy and the peace of this season.

When I told her I was writing this post she also told me: You made me cry with joy…with joy for our relationship. It is your story and I’m just thrilled I got to play a small part.

I tell this story to convey one message: Say thank you. Say thank you to that person who impacted your life. Your family friend who saw you when you felt invisible. Your coach who let you vent about your life at home. People deserve to know the impact that their words have made on your life. People like Mrs.Primm deserve to be honored and recognized. Who has had a profound impact on your life? How can you show your appreciation to those in your life who truly deserve it?

Also, try to think about whose life you could be affecting today. Are there any young people in your life in need of a safe place? Is there anyone who you could offer a listening ear to? Honor those who helped you, by helping this next generation. Be a light in the darkness and a voice of hope in the midst of their pain.

47 Comments

  1. I love that you were able to find a safe place during that dark time, and I love that you reached out to her and let her know how much she has impacted your life! Its such a good idea to reach out to people and let them know if they have impacted our lives. =)

  2. Thank you for writing this!! I’m a teacher and knowing that as teachers, we ARE making a difference in students’ lives, means so much to me. I can relate to Mrs. Primm in so many ways, my number one goal as a teacher has always been to make my classroom a safe place for my students, no matter what they are going through at home or anywhere else. When they walk through my door, they are supported, loved, and protected, no matter what. Thank you for your encouragement!!!

  3. It’s great to read peoples lives and how they’ve overcome darkness in their lives. Teachers are such amazing humans, glad you’ve met one that changed the course of your life for the better. Such courage you’ve demonstrated in sharing your story, be sure that it’ll help one person out there. There’s always hope. This is especially great seeing how May is Mental Health Awareness month.

  4. What a lovely post! I’m so glad to hear she was the light in a time of darkness. I agree it is so important to express gratitude and you’ve inspired me to think of the people who helped me through difficult times. 😊🌻💕

  5. What an inspiring post. It’s always great to hear of teachers who make a positive influence on their students lives. I am so glad that Mrs Primm was placed in your life when you needed her most. <3

  6. Wow. What a wonderful woman! It’s amazing the impact a teacher can have on a student. I had teacher like that, too, Mrs. Rowell, my English teacher for 2 years. I would always have lunch in her classroom with my group of friends, and we were total bookworms and she loved that. She was super chill, honest, and overall a friend when you needed one.

  7. Thank you for sharing. I’m a teacher for kids in treatment, and the thought that I might be the reason a kid turns their life around or doesn’t give up is what keeps me going most days. I also agree about telling people thank you. I recently went to look up a former teacher and found out he had passed away. It was a shock, and I regret that I didn’t try to find him earlier.

  8. Such a beautiful read! My sons teacher has been a blessing in our life and her positivity has more of an impact than she’ll ever know. I am so glad that Mrs Primm came into your life when she did! ❤️

  9. I am so thankful for people like Mrs. Primm. I’ve had a few like her in my life and they have played a huge role in my life. I am where I am because of them. I am glad that Mrs. Primm provided a safe place you and you got the help you needed. This is such a touching story. Thank you for being so brave to share it

  10. I’m glad Ms. Primm was there to help you during a dark time. it’s also nice that you let her know. I was a teacher and knowing that my work was actually doing something positive in society kept me in the classroom.

  11. What a great story. Showing gratitude is something I don’t always do or when I do, I don’t really mean it. But recently I have been trying to be more conscious in saying thank you and meaning it or just appreciating the little things people do for me.

  12. This is such an incredible and beautiful story, wow. Thank you so much for sharing this! It’s so important to show gratitude whenever possible, and your words here are so touching. I know it means the world when I hear someone say “thank you”. I am grateful for this reminder!

  13. This story is so beautiful. I have had some teachers and advisors who have gotten me through rough patches as well. This is such a great reminder to show them how grateful I am for them! Thank you!

  14. My mother is a teacher and has been for years — she teaches at a magnet school for children who are bright, but with behavioral problems and the stories that she tells me are inspiring — just like yours.

    Thanks for sharing! x

    Michelle
    dressingwithstyle-s.com

  15. I love that teacher and nurses week are on the same dates. two professions with very incredible and meaningful individuals!

  16. Thank you for sharing your story. It is beautiful. Sharing our brokenness helps others recognize their own.

  17. I think it’s so true how important it is to have good teachers – teachers who actually care for their students are so few and they make a lasting impact. And they teach you a little about yourself sometimes – see the things about you that you yourself don’t.
    I’ve had few such teachers, and you are so lucky to have had one too. (:

  18. What a beautiful post… Thank you for opening yourself up and know that you are loved! Your teacher was able to make you see one person and that paves the way for looking at others in the same positive regard, as a teacher I know I will always care and protect them as if they were my own children.. Remember kind hearts are everywhere and the cruel hearts need attention to grow. Feed the kindness! God bless 🙂

  19. This was beautiful. I have teachers who have had a big impact in my life and helped me get through the hard times. And this was just as inspiring as my teachers are for me.

  20. Sounds like this high school instructor was more than a mentor to you, she was someone who’d, accepted you for who you are, and that, is what we’re, most in need of during our teenage years, because those years were, usually hard, as we transition from childhood into adults, we’d felt, awkward, being STUCK in-between childhood and adulthood, wish i had a high school instructor like that, but i wasn’t as lucky as you were!

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