The Domino Effect

I believe teachers are like dominos. Every teacher has a story of WHY they teach. Most teachers can also tell you who their most influential and memorable teacher in their school career was. For me, both of these stories are one in the same. The most influential teacher in my time as a student is also the reason why I teach.

Her name was Kelly Michaud. I transferred to Lake County Public Schools in the middle of third grade and was severely bullied. Ms. Michaud let me eat lunch with her in the classroom, and during story time she let me sit at her feet and cuddle her legs. She also helped me to make friends gradually. I had her for 4th grade too. At the end of those two years she did a short presentation on each student in our class and told everyone where she thought we would be in 20 years. Ms. Michaud thought I would be the doctor to find the cure to cancer. Welp! I don’t like tubes or blood, and I was never any good at science, so that didn’t work out for me, but I still think she would be proud of where I am today.

I stayed close with Ms. Michaud until she moved away when I was in 8th grade. She re-married and moved to Denver to teach. She became Kelly Thorpe-Estrada. After I moved home from Spain in 2007, I returned to my job at a huge antique mall in Leadville, Colorado and wondered what I would do with my life. I was seventeen and wanted to go to college but I didn’t know for what. Spanish was the only thing I felt confident in, but I learned through immersion while abroad, and had never been very successful in a classroom. Ms. Michaud walked through the doors of the store one summer day holding two beautiful children in her arms. Both were fluent in English and Spanish. We caught up and exchanged information. It was so wonderful to see her after so many years and to be able to tell her how much I appreciated all of her love and attention so many years ago.

I found out the next week, that she had come to Leadville that weekend to escape her abusive husband. She was in the process of filing for a divorce and she needed to get away. When she returned to Denver that week, one night when the children were with their grandparents, he murdered her, and then killed himself.

I knew then what I wanted to be when I grew up. I loved kids, and loved Spanish. It seemed perfect. I believe that teachers are like Dominos. Ms. Michaud was my domino. She set me off on my course to teach. My hope is that in my career I can affect a student as she affected me. Love and passion go such a long way when inspiring young minds. You never know whose mind you might spark and whose path you might change as you share your wisdom. I am so glad Ms. Michaud was my domino and changed my path. <3 Go be dominos… you never know whose life you might better, and then from there, who knows how great your impact will be. My hope is that Ms. Michaud’s impact gets spread ALL over the world.


  1. ;'( This is so heartbreaking yet so beautiful and inspiring. I am so sorry that you had to endure the loss of someone who had such a profound impact on your life, but am inspired by how you have used the experience to fuel your passion for loving others so well. I am so glad that I was able to meet you at IFLT. You have totally ‘domino-effected’ me 🙂

  2. I stumbled upon this article while looking at old records and websites. Thank you so much for writing this about my mom, it’s so beautifully written and had me in tears. You’ve inspired me to spread her positive impact on my life with the others around me! ❤️

    1. Marly, I have tried for years and years to find ways to get in touch with you and your brother. I have a letter for you. I can’t believe you found this. I love your mom so much and I think of her, literally, Every Single Day. I was actually just speaking about her all morning at Starbucks. I can’t believe I am reading your comment today. Can you shoot me an email so I can get in touch with you? annabelle@
      <3 xo

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