Tuesday, November 30, 2010

To My 4th-Grade Teacher Mr. O'Mary

Thank you, sir, for the moment when you called me aside and told me that I had very high test scores and asked me if I understood what that meant, and when I said 'no', told me the most important thing anyone in my life ever told me:

That means you can be anything you want when you grow up. You can do anything you put your mind to, that's what this means.

I say thank you, sir, for telling me that before anyone ever got to me and tried to tell me that girls can't do math. I say thank you, sir, because you believed what you said, and I believed what you said, far, far more than I believed strangers who looked at me funny for liking 'boy stuff.' I say thank you, sir, because I believe that statement circumvented a great deal of the stereotype gap for me so that I never doubted I could be a scientist if I wanted to. Not only did I believe I was as good as if not better than every man I ever met in the physics program at UC Irvine - I had my 4th-grade teacher to prove it.

I have never, in my life, questioned my ability to learn something, or be something, if I put my mind to it. Now, I *am* an INTJ, and learning things is what we do, but your simple statement codified my belief system for me at a young age, too young for me to even realize it. Well timed, sir, and well put. Thank you, sir, for helping clear my way.