I just received an email that crushed me. A good friend, and the most important teacher I have ever had, Dr. Kristi Alvarez, passed away on January 26th. I managed to cobble this letter together despite the constant stream of tears. As always, there is so much more to say than I was able to actually produce.
Dear Dr. Alvarez,
You were it. End of story. My entire educational life was filled with inconsequential teachers. I hated most of them, and the ones I could stand really did nothing to better my life. They were tolerable at best. I had decided to become a teacher to spite the system that produced me. I was determined to be the antithesis of my relationships with my teachers. While that fire in my belly was enough to motivate me along my journey, I needed to actually experience the warmth of a positive teacher/student relationship in order to become the teacher I am today. Thank you for providing that much needed experience for me. I had not realized until this very moment what a crucial role you played in my development as an educator and as a human being. The instant I read about your passing, it clicked. Whatever I am as an educator, I owe to you. You were the first to really truly care, and the first to nurture my potential as opposed to question my commitment when I didn’t live up to my potential, as had been the norm from K – 12 (plus 2). The two years I spent under your tutelage (in methods class, as my academic advisor, and as my student teaching supervisor) managed to set right all of the wrongs (both real and perceived) I had previously experienced in classrooms. Thank you. The eight hundred or so students I have taught as an 8th grade social studies teacher thank you, and the hundreds more I have yet to teach also thank you. You were an amazing woman, Kristi Alvarez, and your spirit will live on in Room 213 at Pawcatuck Middle School.