Today is National Teacher Day.
I grew up the daughter of 2 teachers, so I know the importance of this Day. It’s a chance to reflect on the teachers you’ve had throughout your life and really hone in on the ones that helped shape and define your future, your life.
For me, that teacher was Ralph Caruso at Barrington High School.
I had Mr. Caruso 3 times while at Barrington High School… he was my sophomore English teacher, my junior year Journalism teacher and my senior year Film Studies teacher. It was during my Junior year in high school that my life changed. I took his Journalism class because I loved to write. I didn’t know if I was good at it, but I knew I had a love for the written word. I remember walking into class that Journalism class on the first day and having Mr. Caruso run through what the class would be like and I literally remember feeling the feeling, “this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.”
His class changed the direction of my life.
It was his teaching.
He was the first person in the world (besides my mom and dad) to tell me that I was good at this journalism thing. He believed in me. And that’s all a child needs from a teacher… belief and passion.
I’ll never forget the moment I knew my life had changed with him. He had asked us to do an assignment over the weekend for class. The assignment was to interview SOMEBODY, anybody. He wanted us to get a feeling for asking questions and getting good answers… and then also crafting it into a story. We happened to go to NYC that weekend to visit my oldest brother’s girlfriend (now his wife!), who was living in NYC at the time. She had been homesick and we were all going to surprise her. I had completely forgotten that I had an assignment due and started to panic while we were away. As we were waiting in line at the subway station with her, I noticed a young girl who was about 20 years old holding her handbag and a can of mace. My sister-in-law started chatting with her and I then asked the girl why she was holding mace (I was 16 years old and a total suburbs girl!). The girl then started to tell me about how it is dangerous for her to take the subway alone because she works late, so she felt better with mace. It was her protector. My “little” conversation with her turned into my interview. I didn’t have paper on me so I started writing her answers (I had asked her if I could write all of it down for an assignment and she was happy to help out!) on napkins and on the backs of paper in my mom’s handbag. I wrote my full story on the way home and was actually nervous to go back to school the next day because I felt like I hadn’t really done the assignment the way Mr. Caruso asked. I felt like he wanted a true sit down interview.
I remember him going from person to person in the class that next day having everyone say who they interviewed and what they learned. At this time in my life public speaking was something I feared. I was sick to my stomach waiting for them to get to me. When they finally reached me, I explained what had happened and who I interviewed. Mr. Caruso just stood there nodding his head. When I was finished, he said… “Audrey, can you stand up?”
I was terrified. But I did.
He then said the words that changed my life, “Congratulations! That’s what it’s like to be a journalist.” And started clapping. Even right now, I have tears in my eyes remembering that moment.
I couldn’t believe it.
To say he gave me confidence in that moment is an understatement.
I don’t even know if he knows this… but it was that defining moment in my life that changed everything for me. I became the co-editor of my high school newspaper under him. I went to Brown to focus on a degree in public speaking and journalism. I interned at our local ABC affiliate throughout Brown. I interned at ABC’s The View during my junior summer at Brown.
This whole blogging this… the communication of it all, it stems back to that very day in my life.
Mr. Caruso was that teacher who just LOVED to teach. It was HIS passion. It was his belief. It was his encouragement. He was an incredible and amazing teacher to me and everyone!
I am honoring my favorite teacher today… Mr. Caruso.
Thank you so much.