Moving: new town, new house, a new beginning. I could handle these new additions, but what I struggled with most were the new friends and the new school. I was never considered an outgoing person in elementary school, and starting at a new school in sixth grade at Richmond seemed like the hardest thing. My parents reassured me: “you’ll make friends and soon adjust to the new curriculum. But I couldn’t have been more doubtful.
My mother pulled up to the front of the school, and I stepped out of the backseat, slowly pacing myself to the front doors. I looked around and realized I didn’t know anyone and had no clue where I was going! I took a deep breath and opened the doors. I walked upstairs to my first class, and it was at that moment that I realized everything was going to be okay.
The classroom smelled of vanilla and the sun reflected right onto the brightly-decorated walls. A warm, welcoming smile greeted me at the door. I looked up from my feet to see who it was, and her name was Mrs. Nguyen. My breathing began to slow down and I sat down in my seat. I told myself, I am safe here. Mrs. Nguyen always made sure I sat by the nice students, so I could make friends.
It shocked me how motherly Mrs. Nguyen was to her students. She always made sure we were okay and ready to learn, even though she was in the middle of a pregnancy and needed to focus on her family. I remember she’d let us choose our own books, and that encouraged me to grow as a student and learn at my own level. After looking back at times like these, I see that in her eyes, we were her family.
As the year went on, Mrs. Nguyen’s relationship with her students grew as she started to learn more about them and their interests. She taught me to be selfless, but to still love yourself. She taught me to be more independent, but to understand that she was there to catch me if I fell. I even remember going into her room during lunch so we could talk about our day, and I helped her clean her classroom.
Because of Mrs. Nguyen, I became more outgoing and confident, and she helped me grow and mature into who I am today. She helped me ignore the bullies, and focus on the good in people. She helped me “pay it forward” and taught me to always give extra attention to those in need.
Although Mrs. Nguyen may not be teaching anymore, I know that she’s changed so many lives for the better. She wasn’t just a teacher but rather she was a leader, a nurturer, a caretaker, and so much more. Because of her a new school and new town didn’t seem so scary, and a new door of opportunity began to open for me.
The front doors swung open, and I traipsed the hallways at Richmond Elementary School once again, but this time with reluctance. It was my first day of fifth grade, and it was overwhelming. Instead of having the same teacher for all my classes, I would have to switch teachers and classrooms for each subject. I felt like I was adrift in a vast, rocky ocean.
I made my way to my first class of the day: science. As I entered the room, my face radiated and my mind eased. I saw a friendly woman with short blond hair at the front of the classroom. She smiled and her eyes suggested her demeanor—calm, caring, and compassionate.
Her name was written on the whiteboard effortlessly in cursive. It flowed like an artist’s fresh brush strokes on a canvas. Mrs. Nguyen. I attempted to sound it out and felt relieved as I looked around as everyone seemed just as puzzled.
“Hi everyone, my name is Mrs Nguyen,” she exclaimed.
The kid next to me questioned, “Like the word win?”
“Yes, exactly like that,” she answered.
Her voice was as soft as velvet yet could be carried for miles and miles like an echo within a cave. Selfless, sensible, and supportive. These describe Mrs. Nguyen.
I still remember one day after class when she pulled me aside; she sensed I struggled. “Are you okay?” These three simple words meant the world to me. Pure empathy radiated from every part of her being like a sudden burst of sunshine on a cloudy day.
The concern and kindness she possessed for her students was as obvious as the stars on a clear night. I developed a sense of trust as big as life for her. The after class talks turned into weekly conversations over hot drinks she made for the us at recess. There was nothing I looked forward to more than sitting in her quaint classroom ranting about everything—including the constant fifth grade drama that never failed to cease.
Mrs. Nguyen was my fifth grade science teacher but also so much more. She was a role model, friend, and my go to person. Instead of feeling like I was lost out at sea, she made my start to middle school like smooth sailing across tranquil waters, and for that I am beyond thankful.