Almost twelve years ago, I was beginning junior high at Mount Pearl Intermediate. Like many young people at that age, I was struggling immensely to figure out who I was, and where I fit in. What didn’t help my situation was that I had been the victim of bullying for two years before and sadly, this past followed me into junior high. By grade 7, I felt there was nothing I could do without being teased. Whether it was the clothes I was wearing, my size, or even something as small as what I had brought for lunch, someone always had something hurtful to say to me. It all became so painful to deal with, by grade 8, I began to contemplate whether or not there was any point in going on and really felt like giving up.
Yet, before I got to that point, and even afterwards when I began to see the light at the end of the tunnel, there was Mrs. Edwina Mills. Starting out as my homeroom teacher in grade 7, as well as teaching me in English, Social Studies and Religion throughout junior high, I can honestly say that no teacher has had a more prominent and positive influence on my life then this amazing woman.
From day one, Edwina taught me to never apologize for being who you are. She taught me the value of having something to be passionate about in life and to never be ashamed or embarrassed to have these passions. Through her, I learned the value of believing in myself, to never be afraid to put my all in everything I do and to not pay attention to the awful things people had to say to me. These are values I took with me when I became involved in Improv and Drama Club through my school, and luckily for me, she was the teacher supervisor for both.
Even during this time when things improved and I began to feel stronger through her influence, the bullying continued and in many ways got much worse. And the straw that finally broke the camel’s back was when Mrs. Mills sensed my pain during a Drama Club rehearsal, and encouraged me to go to the principal’s office to finally tell them what was happening to me. I was never bullied again after that day, and I feel as though that alone is the reason why I will never be able to fully repay her for all she has done for me.
Now, I can honestly say many aspects of my life were influenced by Mrs. Mills. I went on to study History and English at MUN, just like she did; I was able to complete a semester abroad, just like her; and now, like her, I am paying it forward by becoming a school teacher myself.
I am currently finishing my BEd in Primary/Elementary education and am completing my internship at a local Elementary school. I want to be a positive influence to young people, just like she was for me. I feel the best way to do that is to be in the schools directly, and encouraging my students that they can truly achieve anything just by being who they are. I know that if I can impact a student, even to the smallest percentage that Mrs. Mills impacted me, I will have done my job right.
So, thank you Mrs. Mills. I can honestly say that I wouldn’t be here without you, your positivity and encouragement. I will be forever grateful to you for all you have done for me. Not only were you my teacher, but you were my mentor, my number one cheerleader and in many ways my best friend. I truly fear for the day you retire, because I know there are so many others out there like me who would truly benefit from having an incredible teacher in their life like you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you forever and always, Edwina Mills. I could never have made it without you. xo