If you're a South Jersey teacher, let me be the first to say thank you for all you do. I know it's not always sunshine and roses, so thank you for your dedication to the education of our youth.

Today is National Teachers Day (or Teacher Appreciation Day), so that means I need to shout out a few teachers in my academic career that will always have a special place in my heart. These people have, however small the action, shaped me into who I am today. Now's my chance to express my most sincere gratitude. I know it wasn't always easy...

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To Mr. G, or just "G", as we called him, the former band director at Camden Catholic High School - thank you for letting me escape to my safe place to recharge every day even though I was anything but chill. I was always on another level in terms of my bubbly personality, but you let me be me. We formed a pretty close bond for those four years even though I wasn't in band for one second. You're the real MVP.

To Mr. Pacana - Thank you for always making Greek Myth so hilarious and for those dope bonus questions that were completely unrelated to the subject. This guy would get up in the front of the classroom and, quite literally, act out all the stories in our Mythology book. I always looked forward to his class because he made learning fun.

To D. Jones, my radio professor at Rowan University - Thank you for being the only teacher to ever pronounce my full name correctly and for pronouncing it right as I walked across the stage at college graduation (only graduation to ever hear my name without having to be told they're referring to me). Thanks for that, homie. Oh, and thanks for all the radio knowledge, too (obviously).

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Last but not least, thank you to Mrs. Bazis, former 8th grade teacher at St. Patrick's. She's probably a lot of her former students' favorite teacher. This woman gave me some of my fondest grade school memories. She always encouraged me to be myself, even if it drove her nuts sometimes. Plus, she always let me sleep in class for a decent amount of time until she finally had no choice but to wake me up. Mrs. Bazis never tried to stomp out my individuality. I was a bold kid with big ideas and a confidence level not common in a thirteen year old. In addition to that, I had developed a high level of emotional intelligence. I'm sure I wasn't always the easiest to handle since I had very loud opinions, both a sassy mouth and character, and was extremely passionate about basically everything, but I did have the biggest heart and empathetic nature. She saw and acknowledged that part of me, and for that, I will be forever grateful.

A bit of advice to all you teachers out there: be mindful of what you say and do every single day, even down to your body language. I am so thankful to the teachers that genuinely enjoyed me and my personality. It made me eager to get to class and work harder for them, which I'm sure, in a way, made their jobs a bit easier. I can't imagine doing what you do every day. Just know that there's someone out there thankful for your decision to do so.

Also, a note to parents - be kind to your kid's teachers. You know better than anyone that junior isn't always the most even-tempered and well-behaved child, so treat those that are with him or her for the majority of the day with some respect and dignity and let them do their jobs. Teachers have it hard enough; they certainly don't need unwarranted and ignorant opinions from the peanut gallery. Don't jump down my throat, parents. Of course, there are some teachers that aren't that great. There are people in EVERY profession that aren't great at their jobs.

For the most part, though, teachers are doing the best they can with what they're given and deserve to be recognized for it.

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