My Inspirational Hero

By Mariah Dunniway, eighth-grade student at Brimfield Junior High School in Brimfield, Ill.

Editor’s Note: The following comes from an assignment given to Mariah in which she was asked to write about the greatest inspirational leader in her life. Mariah chose Julie Conn, her teacher and WyldLife leader.

Everyone likes to have someone they can tell anything to and know they won’t tell a soul. Someone who listens and understands. They don’t judge you, put you down or tell you they don’t care. For me, that is and will always be my junior high English teacher, Mrs. Conn.

I met Mrs. Conn my seventh-grade year. I was nervous, but she greeted us all and made us feel comfortable in her classroom. I remember sitting there with my friends, Abby, Kerrigan and Margaret, knowing that Mrs. Conn would be one of our favorite teachers, but I never knew that she would end up being so much more to us.

Before I knew it, Abby, Emma, Margaret and I were eating lunch in her room. She would help us understand things more clearly and answer any questions we had truthfully. We all soon developed a strong relationship with Mrs. Conn. We looked up to her and trusted her. The most important thing Mrs. Conn did personally for me was strengthen my relationship with God. I was growing away from God and found myself mad at Him. I began not to believe and I never thought (my faith) would be strong again until I got the wonderful opportunity to go to WyldLife camp (Young Life’s Timber Wolf Lake in Michigan) with an amazing leader and my closest friends.

I had never shown anyone before what a wreck I was on the inside, but I was comfortable around Mrs. Conn and instantly knew she cared. She taught me that sometimes I just need to let go and be a kid and ask God to help me. She taught me I can always rely on God and that He loves me more than I can imagine. She taught me never to give up on people no matter how many times they mess up or let you down. When I walked away, I felt like I wanted to go out and change right then — like I wanted to get down on my knees and thank God for giving us such an amazing person in our lives. Through the rest of camp it was easier to pay attention to the Bible studies, let go of everything and sing at the top of my lungs. I could finally be myself. I came home from camp with an open mind and a clean heart.

So you see? She’s not only my English teacher but my inspiration, role model, friend and guide. She believed in me when I thought I couldn’t do something. She helped me accomplish my biggest fear of heights and even though I hated every minute of it, I’ve got to thank her because now I know I can accomplish anything with God. No matter how many years pass or where I end up, I know I will never forget my kickin’ butt English teacher. Thank you, Mrs. Conn.