Lucye Rafferty/The Hoya Ted Bauer

Next year, I’m teaching fourth grade in Houston, Texas. I really have no idea what that’s going to be like, because I’m from New York City, I spent four years in Washington and one time I had a two-hour layover in Dallas, which consisted primarily of drinking Shiner Bock in a bar littered with Cowboys memorabilia. I think I might be in over my head.

As Georgetown winds down and I tried to cram all my friends and activities into a meaningful ball and figure out what was going on, not to mention where exactly my life was headed, I frequently thought back to my fourth grade teacher Mr. Ryan. In his first assessment of me, he wrote: “When Ted writes his first book, `How To Be an Ideal Student’ .” I digress. Or, rather, I include that as evidence that at some point, I once was a good student. Or just to brag. I’m not entirely sure.

Mr. Ryan had an uncanny fascination with J.R.R. Tolkien, awarded Dante’s Inferno to the top student of every quarter (I won it twice) and rewarded obscure baseball knowledge with Starbust candies. He might have been the greatest teacher that I ever had. I say this not because of any of the above elements of his classroom management (that’s a technical term, mind you . “classroom management”) but because in fourth grade I was a fat, dorky kid who didn’t know anything. And he taught me one of the most important lessons of my life: say `thanks.’ My parents taught me this too, of course, but in fourth grade I was still sticking my grubby hands all the way into the Halloween basket and running off giggling or having a cooler kid stop some dudes from teasing me, and slinking into the background somewhere.

Sophomore year on the Hilltop, Mr. Ryan died. He had been teaching fourth grade for somewhere on the order of 30 years, and I kept thinking to myself, I wonder how many lives he’s influenced across this country and the world. I couldn’t make it to Mr. Ryan’s funeral – I think it was during fall semester finals – but I thought a lot about his impact on my life, and his teaching me to say thank you.

The two words “Thank You” are probably the most under-utilized, but singularly powerful sounds that you can utter. People here, and everywhere, don’t say them enough. There are tons of kids on this campus who slave away to make your life more fun – if you see a kid on GUSA or who planned Rangila, go up to him and say, “Yo, thank you, I appreciate it.” It’s the greatest thing you can hear from another person; to know that’s not why you did something, but that someone still appreciates it, can seriously uplift your day.

I don’t say thank you enough, so here goes:

To my best friends: I think I sent an e-mail with some really weird Indigo Girls quote about life being less complicated with you around. I’m a loser, but you know what, that’s true. Thanks for everything: the things you know you’ve done and the things only I could ever understand, from Kober to Henle and back again. There’s no way this place would have been the same without you guys.

To the Deuce: It’s been a while since I was on that scene, eh? Without all of you, frosh year would never have been the inevitable s-show and love fest that it truly was. Although I eventually drifted onward, I wanted to thank all of you for teaching me more about myself, and life, than I ever expected I would.

To my Senior Class Committee Board: I don’t really know how this all came together, or why it worked the way it did, but all I know is that for the remainder of my life, I’ll be glad it turned out this way. Thanks for showing me more about myself, especially as a leader, than any group before you.

To Martha Swanson: Seriously, how do you do it? You’re amazing. When I think of how many people all over this world must owe you a debt of gratitude, it boggles my mind. Thanks.

To people who don’t want to be mentioned: More than you know, you’ve defined my life here. Thanks.

To everyone else who has crossed my path, and Georgetown: Thank you. That sounded nice, didn’t it?

Ted Bauer is a senior in the College.

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