When I was in fourth grade at Palisades Elementary School, I looked forward to school each day. My teacher, Ms. Marjorie Reay, filled our classroom with buzzing energy.

What I remember most is the blue crates of books, organized by colored stickers. Above the crates, each student had a small, square chart on the wall.Celeste Nahas

When we finished a book we would place a sticker under our name, and when our chart was complete, we were given a sheet of paper we called a “passport.” This led up to monthly passport parties.

Like miniature travelers, we arrived to class the day of the party, passports in hand, clear vibrance in our eyes, ready to receive a stamp for a new country.

Sometimes we would go to Japan — snacking on edamame beans sprinkled with salt and sipping green tea. Other times, parent helpers would bring in Ethiopian stew and we would listen to African drum music. I remember feeling proud that I had earned that party through my studies.

I am incredibly thankful that, last Thursday, I was able to go back to Hallinan Elementary School and see Ms. Reay. After 42 brilliant years of teaching, she will be retiring at the end of this year.

When I visited her, I shared my plans for the future, starting with this fall when I will begin studying music at Williams College in Massachusetts. I also thanked her for giving me an outstanding start at school.Marjorie Reay

Good teachers are common, but truly great teachers — the ones who trust children with books and make education itself into art — are rare.

Reay brings energy and genuine care for her students into the classroom each day. She epitomizes my belief that teaching is not just a job, it is a vital profession.

As the daughter of a second-grade teacher, I know that teachers don’t leave the classroom when the kids go home. Teachers work late hours and buy things for their classroom while on family trips to the grocery store. Yet, educators are too often undervalued or unsupported.

But before I graduate on Friday, I’m glad I was able to visit my wonderful teacher from eight years ago and say: “Thank you.”

Celeste Nahas is a senior at Lakeridge High School. She writes a monthly column for the Lake Oswego Review and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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