National Teacher Appreciation Day
I was always a geeky kid who loved school, so it's no surprise that I can name ten teachers off the top of my head to whom I feel grateful and who I think about with great affection. But hands down, the teacher who had the most significant impact on my life was never my teacher in any particular class, but the teacher who ran our drama and forensics department. She was my mentor, coach, director, and friend.
Kathy Mulay was a perfectionist. And she could be tough. When she cast me in our senior year production of The King and I, I went through a period of rehearsals where I was intimidated to sing in front of the girls playing the King's wives because I thought they had better voices than me. Kathy (Mrs. Mulay then) took me aside and didn't reassure me. She didn't give me a pep talk. She told me that the part was mine and I needed to "get it together." She was the director, she knew what she was doing, and she had given the part to me. It was time to deliver. I remember my blood turning to ice when she dropped this on me. But in the next second I knew I had to deliver. So I delivered.
My decent-but-not-fantastically-exceptional performance as Mrs. Anna aside, the area where Kathy really changed my life was as my forensics coach. Forensics, or competitive public speaking, is not the coolest way to spend Saturday mornings when you're in high school. But for some reason I loved it. I loved to write, edit, and endlessly rehearse my pieces in hopes of winning a trophy. And Kathy would work with me for hours into the evening, choreographing each cross of the room, each hand gesture. Under Kathy's direction I went to the state finals two years in a row, competing my junior year in Informative and senior year in Oratory.
Can you think of a better gift to give someone than the ability to craft and deliver a message that others can understand, and believe? I use these skills every day when I teach classes, lead workshops, and speak at events. I feel so lucky that I can take my passion for helping people bring money into balance and communicate it to as many listeners as I can muster. I never feel nervous in front of a room full of people. I get excited! I know that what I have to say can make lives better, and I don't have to worry about my ability to say it. When I consider that public speaking is one of the most common phobias, I cannot even express my gratitude for what Kathy Mulay has given me. But still I will take this opportunity to say it: Thank you, thank you, thank you, Mrs. Mulay.