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It’s teacher appreciation day, and I thought it appropriate to write a note of gratitude to one of my high school teachers and coaches who had a significant impact on my life.

This blog is a tribute to my high school rowing coach and mathematics teacher Mr. Peter Sheppard.

We haven’t talked in a long time, but I wanted you to know a few things about the impact you had on my life and continue to do so today. So here goes…

Thank you for encouraging me and giving me the confidence to believe in myself.

Thank you for the day that you picked me up when I had failed my mock calculus exam. I had tears in my eyes, and you spent the extra time on Friday afternoons after school until the ‘A’ level to tutor me to help me earn a D on my ‘A’ level, which relatively speaking felt like a success. Thank you for taking the time to help me even though I wasn’t ready to study yet.

Thank you for the time that you put your hand on my head after I was wound up after a race at Gent regatta because I was stressing out about making the junior national team trials. You said to me firmly but with care in your voice “If you are going to make it, you are going to make it.”

Thank you for driving all of those hours across Europe so that I could experience the Armada Cup in my single.

Thank you for spending extra time with us outside of school and practice to get to know us as people and not just as your students and athletes.

Thank you for not continuing to be mad at us when you drive us back to school after a bad training session. You left your emotions at the boathouse and on the river and knew exactly how to separate holding us accountable and personal judgment.

Thank you for being a role model for us all even when things weren’t working for you in your life.

Thank you for that day when you told our coxswain to not call the time correctly on a piece so that when we thought we were finished, we had 45 seconds left to go. You knew to do this only once, but we all knew we had more left in the tank than we thought after we had experienced this.

Thank you for not letting me take myself too seriously.

Thank you for keeping your faith in us even when we weren’t winning or the best boat in the country.

I want you to know that when I am asked who my favorite teacher was I tell them your name.

Upon reflection, I can see now why my friends were saying that I was going to be like you when I grew up. Everyone else knew that I was going to end up being a teacher and coach, except for me.

I appreciate your investment in me and want you to know that I am grateful to have experienced your care, respect, patience, and support to help me on the path to where I am today.

I teach because I was taught.

Thank you, Shep.

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