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Goodbye, Mr. Griffin

We have family. We have friends. Many of us have clergy.

And then there are the adults in our lives who open our minds, and help guide us toward information that will improve our understanding of the world around us and within us.

Teachers occupy a special place of reverence in our hearts and memories, and rightfully so. The best are patient and kind, with a sense of humor and a willingness to accept you in the state you arrive in their classroom, while still making sure that you leave wiser than you were when you entered.

Mr. Griffin was one of my very favorite high school teachers, and the one from whom I took the most classes.

He died last Thursday. He was only 56.

Sir, I'll miss you very much. Thank you for your compassion. Thank you for always making me feel welcome in your classroom, despite being in high school and inevitably feeling like I didn't belong some of the time. In there, while reading aloud from a literature textbook or reciting a French lesson, things were okay. I always was grateful for that.

You were a wonderful advisor to the high school paper, and you allowed me to push the boundaries so I could find out who I was. You let me publish that risky editorial that won the Media Women of South Carolina award.

I know how to write. You helped shape that. Whether it was a classic five paragraph paper or a poem, you educated me on structure and form.

You were a good man, and sometimes a brave one. Thank you for giving your time and your knowledge to so many students. Thank you for empowering my idealism instead of crushing it. Thank you for making me think, and for letting me know when discretion was the better part of valor.

You mattered. You made a difference.

I mean it when I say that it was a privilege, and that I will not forget you.

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