How I Became Friends with My Teacher and Why it Mattered

    Okay, I’ll admit it: I’ve always been a bit of a nerd (in the best way possible). I loved school and appreciated my teachers and professors for who they were, where they had been and what they could teach me. Whether you love learning like I do, or you’re suffering through it until you graduate, everyone goes to school.

    What if you could get through school with someone on your side? Someone who would offer wise advice, encourage you through your challenges and cheer you on when you’re succeeding? These are your teachers and professors, if you’ll allow them to be a part of your life.

    In college, I was hoping for professors who would challenge me and help guide my life toward what I might actually do one day. By the time I got to Dr. Cotton’s creative writing class, I was almost done with school. As a senior, I found out that I had one more elective I had to fulfill. Although it was outside of my two majors (I told you, I love school), I had heard how great this professor was and wanted to take a class with him before leaving college.

    I had written stories and poems since I was a kid, but I found this class was hard. Dr. Cotton pushed me to be the best writer possible, making me write four, five or six drafts before I could even turn a piece in to him. He frustrated me, and at the same time, I loved it. Between assignments and notes, he gave our class more than we bargained for with his “Cotton-isms,” little pearls of life wisdom he had figured out or artfully taken on from other wise souls. I knew he was someone I wanted to listen to.

    Dr. Cotton became a safe place for students, and not only for those in his classes. Unlike other professors, he suffered through cafeteria food with us in order to talk about poetry and life over lunch. He and his wife had some of us over to their house many times throughout the year. When Dr. Cotton finally joined Facebook, I was among his first friends.

    I can’t express in words the immeasurable impact Dr. Cotton has had on my life, even though he taught a class that wasn’t required or even in my major. His way of looking at the world, his criticism that made me a better writer and his idealism for the future and how his students could shape it left marks on me that make me who I am.

    When you’re in high school, your teachers can be your cheerleaders and counselors, not just those weird people you see in the grocery store after school hours. In college, your professors are your mentors and your guides into “the real world” awaiting you outside the campus gates. When you see your professors and teachers for the amazing people they are, you can gain so much wisdom from them. Perhaps you can even gain a friend.

    Kate Hilderbrandt
    I am addicted to potential. I live in Atlanta, GA, where I work as Innovation Manager for The Mission Society, and spend a great deal of time drinking coffee and asking questions that move people toward their dreams. I am a certified professional coach who loves working with female entrepreneurs, discovering life-giving rhythms together to craft a life that works. Twitter: IG:


    1. I agree with this article and comment below. I don’t enjoy or pay much attention to a class if I’m not interested. I admire teachers who are able to engage my interest in a subject and encourage me with patience to continue trying even when I want to quit. Hence why I really like my PE class I’m taking in college. The coach is hilarious and makes activities fun. And he’s patient and encourages me when I’m working out. I think because of this class, I developed an interest in exercising and staying fit. I even thought about getting a degree in Sports and Exercise so I could be a personal trainer, and since I have a gift of encouragement I could motivate and educate others about fitness. Will that actually happen? Maybe, maybe not. Can’t say for sure. If it’s in God’s will. Either way, all it takes is one person to make a difference.

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