The last year of my life has been busy in so many different ways. I feel as if I have been moving into every direction and it has resulted in a continuous learning experience. I am in a good season of my life.
The reality of being in a good mindset that makes me appreciate how far I’ve come is that I get to sit down and acknowledge that I don’t get to take all of the credit. I was raised by two awesome people who showed me so much love and gave me every opportunity to be the human I wanted to be. They have shown me that it is beyond worth it to make sure that all of my choices are made with a kind heart. I know I have failed that- I fail to be 100% kind every single day. However, kind is still what I want to be, and what I look for in every other person.
I have encountered people from every end of the kindness spectrum throughout my life. As I got older and started to make a mental note of the people who I wanted to grow up to be like, I realized that there were a lot more of the little people on my list than the big guys. Sure, Beyonce is a killer role model for some young women, but so are the sweet ladies that work in Robin Blu or my favorite baristas at Panacea. They are people that take the extra step to care about other humans and other creatures. They are the types of people to ask how you are doing and go beyond the simple answers of “good” or just “alright.” I think we skip over the big picture in our busy lives, but it’s nice to step back and realize that those little things add up in huge ways.
The thing is, the people who take the time out of their day to let the peace of their mind shift from their lives into yours are the ones who I have learned to appreciate the most, and strive to be like.
One of my very favorite examples of those individuals is Jennifer Cragg.
I had the privilege of being a student in Mrs. Cragg’s classroom throughout my high school career. After the first class I had with her I realized that she could probably teach a really boring subject and I still liked her enough that I’d take every level she offered. She introduced me to marketing in business (the major that my current path is pointing at in college) and provided a lot of opportunities for myself and other students to explore it in depth.
To truly reflect on this, I must admit that at the time that I was a student in Pisgah, I did not appreciate her enough. I think as a whole, so many teachers are underrated. It isn’t until they get acknowledged for one big thing or change a person’s life dramatically that people start to think, “hmm- this person should probably be thanked a lot more,” and that now drives me nuts! The reality is that all educators are preparing the people of the future to get out there and accomplish some awesome things, and Mrs. Cragg has done that and so much more for me.
Seriously, I adore this woman. I watched her power through the negativity and give her all inside and out of her classroom. I watched students disrespect her and I watched students adore her. I watched her always seek to learn from experiences and teach us how we could improve. She brought the real world into the classroom and didn’t hesitate to make us think about it. She does an awesome job at putting up with a room full of teenagers for eight hours of her day when a lot of people couldn’t dream to do the same.
Mrs. Cragg is an educator to look up to. That is a fact in my book.
More than that, however- is that she is a kindhearted individual to look up to outside of the classroom as well.
I cannot recall a single time where this woman has spoken with any form of disdain without seeing the situation as an opportunity to grow. I know I have likely had my moments where I didn’t make her life any easier and yet she still showed me unrestrained kindness. She provided every opportunity to make a difference in our community by just partaking in classroom projects. It’s always been real with her- and I know for a fact that she has made me a better person by the way she applies and shares her mindsets.
Mrs. Cragg has gone out of her way to be good to so many more individuals than just myself. She has been a role model to me, and continues to be as I grow older and realize more and more how great her spirit is. I truly aim to resonate a kind heart in a way similar to hers one day.
I have been so fortunate to see her become a mother to an adorable little boy and I am ridiculously happy for her and her husband. They have welcomed me into their lives to photograph them on a few different occasions, and I was able to have them over to my home this past weekend to catch some recent photos of them again.
Mrs. Cragg has been one of the most meaningful supporters of my photography since the beginning of my portrait endeavor and it continues to mean so much to me that I can share it with her family.
I am sincerely grateful for Mrs. Jennifer Cragg and wish so much happiness to her and her family.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
(c) 2016 Hannah Ramirez Photography