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Gutknecht: A ‘Thank you’ to the teachers in my life

As I sat down to write my column for the week – it is actually 6:45 Wednesday morning (inspiration can hit you at any time, trust me) – I thought about the educators throughout my life and how they have shaped me. 

Tuesday morning, I got to go to Eastside High School to see four seniors sign a commitment to mold the next generation. How special is that? It got me thinking a lot about the teachers that have shaped my life. While I only plan to mention three in this column, please know I could take up this entire newspaper touching on the educators who have made me who I am today. 

Ms. Elisa Marathas, Barksdale Elementary School, third grade: When I say I was a rowdy kid, I am not kidding. Ms. Marathas got me at my worst – sorry about that by the way. In elementary school I was known for being a chatty child and with a last name like “Gutknecht” that reputation was hard to shake. 

Ms. Marathas worked overtime to help me channel my energy into something productive and that was writing. She helped me find my passion for telling stories at an early age and that has obviously carried on to my adult life. 

One thing we can all thank Ms. Marathas for would be my knack for spelling. See, in third grade I liked to make things up as I went. Ms. Marathas called it the “Jackie Dictionary.” I would simply find a letter I liked and put it everywhere without any rhyme or reason. Thankfully, I got over that stage in my life and because of Ms. Marathas you can read what I’m writing today. 

Dr. Camille Broadway, Georgia Southern University, department of communication arts: By the time I got to college, I thought I knew what I wanted to do with my life. If you saw Page 2A of last week’s newspaper you would know I started college with the goal of becoming an educator – a high school English teacher to be exact. That all changed when I started to delve into the world of journalism.

While I could credit this change in majors to my sophomore year introduction to journalism class, I didn’t really find my true love for the art until I joined the student newspaper and met my academic adviser, Dr. Broadway. 

I took Dr. B for several classes, but the one that really stands out to me to this day would be Communication Theory. Have you ever thought about how people communicate? Why do we say the things we say? How did that come to be? This class definitely made me think. 

I find myself thinking back to all of my communication theory studies regularly finding answers to daily questions about how things are said and why things are handled a certain way. 

I am thankful for Dr. B every day for not only helping point me in the right direction of a path that has turned into a career, but also helping guide me to be as successful as possible, even after graduation. 

Mrs. Jenna Ellis, Nevils Elementary School, second grade: Let me be honest with you, I never had Mrs. Ellis as a teacher in school. I did not attend Nevlis Elementary School and I’ve never actually seen her in action in the classroom.

Mrs. Ellis is my sister. Growing up, everyone knew Jenna was going to be a teacher. She has an unending passion for children and shows a passion for helping others. See, because of that my sister and I didn’t get along for most of my early childhood – older siblings think they know best, you know?

Little did I know then, she was teaching me. She was showing me how to walk through life and the right paths to take. As I mentioned before, with a last name like “Gutknecht” there was no hiding who I was and with a sister only two years ahead of me, I had big shoes to fill throughout school. 

Because of my sister, I know for a fact teachers do not get nearly enough credit for what they do. They are molding the minds of the next generation and that is a burden they do not carry lightly. I hear stories all the time of students in her class. It is not your standard job; my sister carries these students and their stories with her everywhere she goes. It is something I don’t think non-teachers will ever fully understand or truly appreciate. 


To close this out I want to say “Thank you.” Thank you to all of the teachers in my life and thank you to those who have chosen to continue their education into the world of educating others. You are truly making a difference. 

Jackie Gutknecht is the managing editor of The Covington News. She can be reached at or 770-728-14009. Twitter: @jackieg1991