I was lucky – I had several. Not all of them were perfect, but each was perfect for me. They made a difference for lots of kids, and for me, they made all the difference.
I was never an easy kid to teach. I was called precocious, which I think was a nice way of saying “pain in the ass.” School was boring and sitting still was impossible. I never got impressive grades, but would test well. If a subject captivated me, I would devour everything I could find about it, but this happened far too infrequently for most teachers.
Except for the few. Each of them found a way to keep me engaged, to expose the fascinating detail of a subject, or bring meaning and relevance to it. Science became a study of the way things work, rather than just facts and formulae. History showed stories of struggle and redemption, rather than just dates and names. Math became shape and motion, rather than anonymous patterns to manipulate with set procedures.
Teachers are not interchangeable parts of a machine. But then again, neither are kids.