21/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. So everyone says that teachers have influences on their students but it also works the other way around. It’s rare but there are students who affect teachers for the rest of their lives. I have had about a handful of students who have done that and have written about one and will be writing about a few more. Today’s day of gratitude goes to one of my all time favourite students who taught me about life, perseverance, positivity and the light you shine upon others. Cindy was a girl I taught in grade 9 and 10 at Burnett Secondary in the mid 90s. She was such a positive girl and came to my class always with a smile on and the sunniest disposition. I don’t think I ever saw Cindy get upset nor dislike anything. She was a positive role model to all around her and at that time, I thought what a wonderful girl; however, Cindy’s life changed over the next two years in ways that I cannot even begin to fathom. In grade 9, Cindy’s mother passed away and as a teacher, I was made aware of it. Cindy returned to school several weeks later and took the pain and sublimated into her school work – she was still on Students Council, caught up all her missed work and was on top of her game. I remember meeting Cindy’s mom and her telling me how much Cindy enjoyed the class and I made sure that I kept as much normalcy for Cindy in the classroom. Cindy’s father came to see me during parent teacher conferences and commented on the same. A year later, in grade 10, Cindy’s father passed away. I was dumbfounded as were all her teachers and friends. Cindy did not return to school and moved away to France with her relatives but through the powers of the internet, we kept in touch. I learned that this young woman completed her highschool and then went on and did her post secondary. This amazing young woman had a child and made headlines in France when she had a breast feeding sit-in because she stood up for what she believed in! This wonderful woman, despite her circumstances, rose above it all and lives a life of fulfilment. Her son is very lucky to have such an awesome mother. I commented to Cindy one time that if my daughter is half the woman Cindy is, I am the luckiest father in the world. Cindy, you have taught me so much about life and never letting anything get in your way and making a success of yourself. I am very fortunate to have taught you, kept in touch with you and call you a friend today. I am so very proud of the person you are. Thank you for being you and affecting me!