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Today I taught a class of three students a lesson I have learned from every teacher since Mrs. Molyneux (kindergarten): I can be/do anything I set my mind to.

These kids really thought they couldn't. They have always been told it isn't possible. So I asked them, how do you think so-and-so did it? If it isn't possible, how did they do it?

They, I kid you not, really struggled with a response. Emeline finally said they had confidence in themselves. I gave these kids a pep-talk for the next 40 minutes basically. I told them they could change the world. I said they could do anything they set their mind to. I asked them questions and then more questions trying to pry their fears out of them. I made all self-doubt look illogical. I made all impossibilities practical realities.

They don't think things can ever change. I told them that couldn't possibly be true. Then the bell rang. They stayed.

You could tell they were at least ready to hear that there were other possibilities.

In the next two weeks I will be showing American films in my self-created "American Film Festival." Each day (well, almost, due to scheduling conflicts) I will be showing a different film. I have been writing a letter to the teachers about it today - trying to encourage them to participate and create an English/other subject interdisciplinary approach to the material.

For my class of non-believers, October Sky. For the ones that say the establishment holds you back and prevents progress, Lean On Me. For the ones who are against the death penalty, The Life of David Gale. All of those are based on true stories.

In other, more curriculum friendly, forms we have
for literature: Midsummer Night's Dream, Finding Neverland
for social debate: Philadelphia
for history: National Treasure

And then, of course, I might show a musical, an adventure film, and something else - just because you should have all sorts of genres in an American Film Festival.

I don't know if the kids are going to take advantage. I don't know if the teachers are even going to try to get involved in it. I could sit in the room with all the worksheets and debate questions I'll have prepared and wait. And if one kid shows up, it'll be worth it. It only takes one.

But it didn't only take one to make me. Thank you to each and every one of my teachers. To the ones who always believed in me, the ones who never did, and the ones who stood on the sidelines and silently cheered (or booed).

Because the ones who always believed made me believe. The ones who discouraged me only forced me to work harder to prove them wrong. The ones who stood on the side were at least standing, whether they were encouraging or not.

I would not be me, nor be here if I hadn't had the most amazing teachers to send me on my path. There are not enough ways to say thank you.

Merci, danke, gracias, gratzi, ~Heather