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Teacher appreciation week

Rick Ryckeley's picture

Next week is Teacher Appreciation Week, and this column is dedicated not only to all the teachers out there, but a few from way back in the day and to one who is truly special.

While growing up at 110 Flamingo Street, I really didn’t understand how teachers could change the lives of their students forever. Since I couldn’t appreciate them then, I thought I’d say thanks now for what they did for me now. Four teachers still influence my life even today.

First up, Coach Reeves, head coach at Briarwood High School, home of the Mighty Buccaneers.

Molding us into men for three hours every day after school, he was the first person to say to me, “No matter how many times in life you get knocked down, keep getting up.” Since then, life has knocked me down more than just a few times. When it does, I hear Coach’s voice and I get back up.

Besides, life has nothing on Bubba Hanks – the biggest tackler the Mighty Buccaneers had even seen. After getting knocked down by him, it took me half the practice to get back on my feet.

Next was Mr. Myers, my tenth-grade math teacher. With his many games, puzzles, and humorous illustrations on the chalkboard, he made math interesting and fun. It sparked inside of me a love for numbers — something that has served me well through the financial world.

He also said something I’ll never forget: There was always a right answer to every problem. No matter how hard the problem, if we got stuck, then we should start over again from the beginning and take our time. The answer would eventually be apparent. By following his advice, I’ve worked though many of life’s biggest problems.

Although Mister Sims wasn’t a teacher, he was in school everyday. He always had a smile on his face and knew most of the students by name. As head custodian at Briarwood, he taught me something no other teacher could.

Without saying a word, he taught me a person could find the joy in any job. He was constantly working, and I don’t remember him ever being sick.

For five years, he demonstrated that a hard day’s work was something you could be proud of – no matter what job it was. I’ve had some pretty awful jobs in my lifetime, but just like Mister Sims, I have always been happy at work and rarely, if ever, called in sick.

Lastly, there’s one teacher who has helped me more than any other. There aren’t enough words in this column to illustrate all that she has done for me.

She was that special teacher from long ago who changed my life, sending it in a direction I never thought possible. Though many have tried in the past, she was the one teacher who made me actually feel like I was intelligent.

If asked, she would humbly say what she did was really nothing special, but she would be wrong.

Teaching isn’t just a profession. It’s more than that. It’s a gift. And I will eternally be thankful that the person who edits this column for the last 13 years, The English Teacher, has shared her gift with me.

[Rick Ryckeley, who lives in Senoia, served as a firefighter for more than two decades and has been a weekly columnist since 2001. His email is His books are available at]

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