#525 That one teacher

Put your hand up if you ran from doorbells, hid behind pant legs, and avoided eye contact with grownups as a shy little kid.

Brothers and sisters, if your hand is up right now, you are not alone.

Yes, mute as a mouse, quiet as a cat, I was a short, snotty, bedhead-smeared ghost of a child until about eight years old.

That was when I was head-yanked out of my turtle shell by a cotton-white, curly-haired, crinkly-smiled teacher who pushed me every single day. For some reason Mrs. Dorsman cared, she just cared, and she had me reading to the class, talking out loud, and practicing my cursive on the blackboard.

Sadly, when I was 10 years old my family moved away and we completely lost touch. But the little germs of ideas she planted in me rooted deep and grew slowly as the years bumped on and on and on and on…

Years ago when The Book of Awesome was coming out I woke up and found this in my inbox:

— Email message —

From: Stella Dorsman

Neil, I just read the article in the Star this morning about your interesting life and upcoming book. I just need to know….are you the Neil Pasricha who was in my grade 3 class at Sunset Heights P.S.? If so, reading about you has been my truly awesome moment for today. I have been retired for ten years, but always remember my good students and hope that some of the emphasis I placed on writing skills eventually paid off. Please confirm your identity!

Best wishes,

Stella Dorsman

— Email message —

From: 1000 Awesome Things

It’s me! It’s me!

Mrs. Dorsman, you did indeed inspire and encourage me. I remember our class fondly! You are a fantastic and passionate teacher and I’m sure you encouraged thousands of students in your career. I count myself amongst the lucky! Thank you for calling my name on your attendance list outside the doors on that cold morning after Labor Day.


— Email message —

From: Stella Dorsman

Neil, SO HAPPY to hear from you…..and you’re old enough to call me “Stella” now! I also remember your Sunset Heights class as one of the highlights of my career…not all classes were as much fun.

I will indeed check out your book….I’m very proud of you…Stella

Well, we’ve all got those teachers who plant seeds inside us. Maybe it’s the baseball coach who leaves you on the mound after giving up some runs, maybe it’s the language teacher who helps you with that stutter after class, or maybe it’s the college professor whose inspirational talks fill you with the power to follow your dreams.

When Mrs. Dorsman picks up a copy of The Book of Awesome I hope she reads all the way to the Acknowledgments buried in the back and finds the tiny little note waiting there just for her.

“Special thanks to Mrs. Dorsman for pushing me out of my shell in third grade.”


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