Tell us about a teacher who had a real impact on your life,
either for the better or the worse. How is your life different
today because of him or her?
I had a teacher named Mrs. Mary Mack when I was in middle school. She taught math class and religion classes in 6th and 7th grade in a small Polish Catholic school. I was always a smart cookie, and I had a fantastic memory. As all middle schoolers do, I started to test my limits and see how much I could slack off.
On a religion test, I wrote the most basic short essay answer I could. It answered the question, no more, no less. I figured that’ll get me the credit and I don’t have to spend time on this test. She counted it as wrong. She wrote in the margin, “While this is correct on the most basic level, I know you can do better and I expect you to do better. I won’t count this answer as correct because I know how much more you know.”
It has stuck with me through today. Even though sometimes I do just do something at the most basic level to get it done, the basic level for me has changed. What I consider basic is what most people would consider above average. Mrs. Mack gave me a bit of a push to find my own ambition, since before that, I had only operated on what my parents demanded of me in school and in life.