Photo of author Danny Charney and Ms. Mcdaid

Dear Ms. Mcdaid,

I want to say thank you. I have so much to be thankful for in my life, and you taught me to take life by the reins and own it. You taught me to believe in myself, and to take time to love myself. 

When I walked into your room on a windy autumn day in October, I was at a turbulent point in my life, and I was uncertain whether I could take on junior year, or let the stress of school and social relationships take over me. I walked in and introduced myself with a brittle smile and eyes that looked lost and uncertain. 

You looked over at me and reassured me that you were there to help, and you explained that your job as the school psychologist was to help me deal with my stress and to work on my mental health, in school and at home. I let all my feelings spill onto the table that day, and I told you all about my experiences, from coming out of the closet to my concerns about my future. 

You sat there listening intently, really analyzing my situation and only responding after I finished talking. Looking back at that day, I now realize that what I needed that day was someone to listen, to really affirm my identity and to help me become the best version of myself.

After that day, I came into your office once a week, sometimes happy as a clam, and other times as sad as a bird without wings. When we would talk, I would try to explain the numerous thoughts that ran through my head each second, and you would come up with the best answers and suggestions. You taught me to show the world that it's perfectly normal to be dealing with anxiety and depression.

You had faith in me when I felt I had no support at school. You were my biggest cheerleader and one of my biggest supporters. When I would feel like I was going to break down in the middle of class, I’d walk into your office, and you would listen. You were there to find answers to my biggest questions in life — and you succeeded.

You advocated for me, to get the tools and resources I needed to be successful in school. You kept reminding me that I was worth it, that my life was worth living. 

You supported me in every situation. I wanted to run for GSA President? You told me you would support my candidacy in any way. I wanted to take an easier class load for senior year? You explained that this was a wonderful idea to relax and make my last year of high school as stress-free and calm as possible.

You made me discover. You gave me tools to relax and breathe. You showed me that it’s okay to take time for my own mental health. When I would compare my grades and test scores to those of other students, you would lift my spirits. When I felt like I was failing at life, you picked me up and encouraged me.

You told me that I would finish high school just fine because of how hardworking and diligent I was. You told me that I needed put all my energy and hard work into the activities I loved the most, like serving on GLSEN’s National Student Council, because I was going to change the world by helping uplift LGBTQ students and making our schools more inclusive.

You have changed my life. I cannot thank you enough — for empowering me, for uplifting me, and for showing me that this life I’m living is a beautiful gift, and that I need to remind myself more that I’m more than enough.

From your student and friend,


Danny Charney is a member of GLSEN’s National Student Council.

Is there a supportive educator in your or your child’s life? Teacher Appreciation Week is May 8-12, and you can express your thanks by purchasing this bouquet – now 20% off with the code TEACH20. 10% of sales benefit GLSEN’s work to make schools LGBTQ-inclusive.

Photo of 3 youth holding up LGBTQ Pride flag, promoting Teacher Appreciation Week