When I first started at Hartland High School I was in the 10th grade. In 9th grade, I had moved to a private school due to extreme bullying. After spending my college savings on this private school we decided to change again, finally settling on Hartland. At the time I was still struggling heavily from my newly diagnosed mental illnesses, my suicide attempt, and multiple mental hospital stays. Even just a few months prior I had stopped self-harming.
Starting school halfway through high school, knowing nobody was very difficult. I walked into my geophysical science class on my first day to a board full of instructions and some very confused students. The board read “Seat yourself in order by birthdate.” Everyone stood, nobody was talking. I stepped in, directed everyone to the correct seat and a few minutes into class the task finished. She smiled and congratulated me.
I thought that was the end of it. However, that night my mother received a call. My mother did not pick up, but Mrs. Moore left a voicemail. I got to listen. She praised me, told me how she was so proud of me, so impressed. She was shocked that this was my first day at the school, and how I had so willingly took charge. Over the past year, my grades had declined (once an A+ student) as I dealt with severe mental illness and bullying. Teachers would say mean things about how I needed to apply myself, I wasn’t going anywhere, etc. It meant so much to me and my entire family that somebody truly believed that I was a good person and student. My mother and I sat in our living room that night, listening to the voicemail on repeat, crying of pure happiness. I’m not sure anybody has ever done anything nicer for me.
As I continued in her class we reached a group project a couple of weeks in. I ended up working with some students who did not really do any work, but they were the only friends I had at the school at the time. I tried to give them as little work as possible, knowing it may not be done. As the next day rolls around, they managed to do the work but all of it is stolen directly off a singular website. I can’t use it, don’t have time to re-print. It was at this moment I knew I was going to have a panic attack.
As I started to lose my composure she came over and pulled me into her office, where she helped me ride through my panic attack. I did not feel judged. I was graded for my piece of the project, as she had seen the entire situation. She told me my work was great and reassured me. I was so insanely grateful for that day. Usually, teachers respond to my panic attacks by freaking out or trying to hug me (this usually terrifies me further). Her response was so wonderful and kind, while also very respectful of my personal space. Over that year we grew closer, and she helped me through every breakdown and panic attack I had in that class. She was my savior for that year. Encouraged and praised me for everything I got right but did not put me down for my struggles. I struggled even near the end of the year to make friends, and I liked knowing she was someone I could talk to every day when I knew very few people in the entire school. There were a few occasions that someone made a rude comment towards me in class and NEVER have I seen a teacher shut up a student so quickly.
The following year I was in 11th grade, and I returned to her class for a class called “Materials Science”. I Loved the class. Later I realized that most of the tools and materials used were paid for by her out of pocket. She mentioned that there were a few summer camps I could attend if I was interested. I chose to apply to one, and she wrote me a review. I was accepted and I fell in love with materials engineering! I know that without her written recommendations I probably would not have been able to attend. That fall, I received an email from the organization. They chose me and one other student to attend an all-expense paid trip to France for a materials engineering summer camp. I was thrilled, Mrs. Moore helped me get here. When I told her she was so happy for me, and I cannot believe the support I received from her then and throughout the years.
I head to Michigan State University in 6 days to study Materials Engineering. Mrs. Moore has not only academically inspired me to become an engineer, but personally helped me through my extreme struggle. She will forever be one of my favorite people, and I cannot imagine things would have gone as well for me had I not had her as a teacher in that rough time. She is my biggest inspiration and my only hope is that I can one day be as kind, smart, and passionate as she is. She helped me believe that my life was worth living, that I was a good person and a good student. Nobody in my life has ever given me as much hope about my future as she has. I never thought I would graduate high school after being diagnosed with mental illness, I never thought I would live long enough to get there. She was a constant support line, and a huge part of the reason I am still here today. I will forever be grateful.
Zoe S Yanik