"The escape provided by school did not materialize by means of distractions or friends, but rather through the steadfast foundation
provided by my teachers."
- Sydney S.
My name is Sydney Schmidt and I am a senior at Big Horn High School. At an early age I fell in love with the sport of basketball. I would spend hours in the driveway shooting free throws, days on the road traveling to tournaments, and a whole lifetime loving the game. While I am grateful for all of the family members who helped me pursue this dream, none of it would have been possible without my dad. Thanks to him, I was able to do what I loved. It was a passion of mine that we shared, and a passion that I assumed we would share forever; however, when I got into second grade, a realization dawned on me that this love we shared could cease to exist.
I remember coming home from school and being told that my dad needed heart surgery. He had a bicuspid aortic valve that would prevent him from living the life he loved and needed replaced if he wanted to continue watching me play basketball. While he made it through the surgery, his heart was never quite the same. When I was a freshmen in high school he developed an infection known as endocarditis -- a bacterial disease that causes complications in the heart. While this infection is rare, only manifesting itself in the hearts of 200,000 Americans each year, the effects are very serious. He fought the infection to the best of his ability, but on December 8, 2014 he passed away -- ten days before my birthday and ten days before my first varsity basketball game.
"My dad was my biggest fan, my strongest supporter, and my favorite coach. He provided me with the opportunity to do what I loved, and as a teacher, that is exactly what I plan on providing for my students."
- Sydney S.
For a long time after that, I was in a dark place. I did not understand how a 14-year-old could be left without her dad, or more, her best friend. As time progressed, my mom became consumed with grief and my sister once again left for college, leaving me feeling more alone than ever. I missed my dad, and the sport that once filled me with joy now exhausted me with heartache. However, no matter how alone I felt, there was one place that distracted me from any negative thought, and that was school.
The escape provided by school did not materialize by means of distractions or friends, but rather through the steadfast foundation provided by my teachers. Colter Brantz, my current English teacher, cultivated an environment that served as a vacation away from my problems at home and gave me a place where I could go to forget. While he definitely had a direct impact on my life, he also inadvertently reminded me that my future is undetermined by the past. As an unforeseen result, teaching became my desired profession. To become a teacher is to forever impact the lives of students, and that is something I wish to do.
My dad was my biggest fan, my strongest supporter, and my favorite coach. He provided me with the opportunity to do what I loved, and as a teacher, that is exactly what I plan on providing for my students. After obtaining a degree in English education, I want to impact the lives of children just as mine has been impacted. I truly believe that teachers have the potential to change a student’s life forever, and by doing so, I will not only receive satisfaction and gratitude from my degree, but I will ensure that every student, no matter the circumstance, is offered the same unending support that I once experienced.
- Sydney S.