In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, we asked the EducationSuperHighway team to tell us about their favorite teachers – the ones who encouraged them and made them feel like anything was possible.
“My 3rd Grade Teacher, Mrs. Kittrell, saw a light in me that I didn’t realize was there. I used to think that she made me stay after school with her every day because she needed someone to keep her company. It wasn’t until years later that I learned that she and my dad had made an agreement that in order to keep me an accelerated learning pace, I would need to stay after school so she could teach me the 5th grade lessons as a 3rd grader. She’s been my heroine ever since.”
“I’ve had so many great teachers but the one who sticks out the most is my first teacher, Mrs. Caruso. I was a quirky, precocious kid and she encouraged my love of learning and made me feel like I could do anything I set my mind to.”
“I had wonderful teachers who were inspiring, kind, and fun but I never felt like I had any who truly saw and understood me. That was until I landed in Mrs. Charles’ fifth grade classroom. She changed my life. Mrs. Charles was the first and only African-American teacher I would have throughout my primary and secondary schooling. She represented a world of possibilities for a young black girl who had big dreams to become a writer. She had my back and I am forever grateful.”
“My 10th grade English teacher Mr. Clifford was the first teacher to push me to explore academic areas I had never thought of before – like the economic debate team! Even though I never took an interest in economics after that, I will always appreciate him for nudging me along the way. I was able to discover my resiliency and the ability to rise to any occasion in life.”
“My 11th grade English teacher, Mrs. Schaus, taught me the importance of personal writing. She incorporated journaling into the curriculum of our class and graded us only on whether or not we had at least two entries each week. During that year I discovered how personally productive it was to take time to reflect through journaling, particularly as a tool to help me process emotions. I still journal to this day, and I’m grateful to Mrs. Schaus for the lasting positive impact she made on my life.”
“My third grade teacher Mrs. Johnson gave me the confidence I needed. I was starting to learn English and was constantly struggling to communicate or understand a lot of what was going on in the class. She would go out of her way to make sure I felt comfortable and took extra time to work with me. She would sneak books with cassettes out of the library so I could take them home and practice my reading. I will always be thankful for what she did and the cheering she kept doing while I was in elementary.”
“My third-grade teacher Mrs. O’Dell used to write long division problems across the board and encourage everyone to solve a piece of it. Her enthusiasm made me want to go up, work with my classmates, and solve the problem to completion – even though the massive number often overwhelmed me when I first saw it. She taught me that I didn’t need to know the solution before approaching a problem and that by working together as a team, we could figure it out.”
“I was not supposed to be in Mr. Davis’ physics and calculus class. I didn’t meet the prerequisites so my academic counselor wouldn’t allow it, but Mr. Davis made an exception and welcomed me anyway. By welcoming me in his classes, Mr. Davis made me believe in my academic potential. Inspired by Mr. Davis, I pursued physics and data science for my degrees and became an educator hoping to assist students who face barriers in pursuing math and sciences, just like he did for me.”
“I had the fortune of having two classes my senior year with Mrs. Lax, including the elective class creative writing. I would have never taken that class except that I loved Mrs. Lax’s energy and encouragement in the English class I took with her. As a typical left-brained person, I had never written anything for fun before taking her creative writing class, and I felt safe enough to share my amateur poetry and stories in a class of writers thanks to her support. I still journal to this day and find great stress relief from the process.”
“My 4th grade teacher Miss Hickox was the one who got me excited to learn and show that they cared. I was just starting to swim competitively and she actually came and cheered me on at a swim meet! I made sure I did everything she asked because it was so nice of her to come cheer me on.”
“My 5th grade teacher, Mr. Bauman, really sticks out as a formidable presence in my education. He was charismatic, honest, and took time to get to know each and every student individually. Knowing that he cared about me as an individual made me look forward to going to class and work that much harder. He did a lot to help my confidence and encourage my love of learning. Sometimes he even played soccer with us at recess, which was just about the coolest thing ever.”
These and many other great teachers inspired a love of learning and a belief in the power of education, which drives our work to close the connectivity gap so that students all over the United States can take advantage of the promise of 21st century learning.
Do you have a favorite teacher who helped you become who you are today? Tell us about them in the comments. Or, better yet, let them know just how much they mean to you.