When Amy Hamilton teaches her biology classes at Northwest Guilford High School in North Carolina, she wants her students to get more than just a passing grade—she wants them to leave inspired.
“When the kids leave my classroom I want them to love biology too,” she told WGHP. “I want them to learn about the living world.”
It sounds like idealistic teacher talk—but Hamilton knows firsthand the influence a teacher can have on a student’s life. Years ago, she sat in a class just like this at this very same high school, and a biology teacher changed the course of her life.
“Her name was Betty Walker,” Hamilton remembered.
“She had such a love for biology that it influenced me.”
Hamilton always hoped she could pay it forward and inspire her pupils, too. But she had never known of anyone who had been shaped by her class … until recently, when she was dining with her sister at a nearby Mexican restaurant, the Rio Grande in Oak Ridge.
She had no idea she had crossed paths with someone in the restaurant before.
Hamilton finished her meal, and her server handed her what she thought was the bill.
But she was surprised to see it wasn’t the bill—it was a handwritten note.
It was from a former student—and she wanted to thank the “best biology teacher.”
The woman had even majored in biology. Hamilton was incredibly moved by the letter.
“I just couldn’t believe it,” she told WGHP. “It was just such a nice note that it was wonderful.”
Of course, she asked her waiter who the woman was, looking to thank her and talk to her.
But the waiter informed her that it wasn’t possible:
“She’s already left, and she paid for your dinner.”
Hamilton was disappointed she couldn’t meet with her former student, but she was incredibly moved by the gesture—she suddenly realized that she changed a student’s life, the way her teacher had shaped her’s.
“Sometimes we don’t know we are making a difference,” she told WGHP.