Happy National Teacher Appreciation Day! Without the incredibly hard work and dedication of teachers around the nation, our mission to connect America’s classrooms would not be possible. Our staff would like to share a little about the teachers they want to thank today and throughout the week. We invite you to tweet us or share with us on Facebook how teachers have enriched your life.
Ms. Nanda – charismatic, engaging, and constantly challenging us to ask questions. All hallmarks of a good teacher, right? But as the only Indian girl in my class, I saw a role model in her. She, as a woman of color, represented someone I could aspire to be. She made things possible. It was cool to nerd out on science, get my hands dirty experimenting with vinegar and baking soda, and build different circuits to power a lightbulb. Ms. Nanda for me broke the norms of what I could be and pushed me to infuse my life with curiosity.
Education should be immersive. Mr. Price, my seventh grade Language Arts and Social Studies teacher, employed this practice in our classroom to the extreme. I can recall almost every project from that year because it went beyond homework and textbooks— for 3 months during our unit on Japan, every student had to take their shoes off before entering the classroom and bow while reciting greetings in Japanese. I had my earliest grasps on what communism was when he averaged the entire class’s spelling test scores and awarded us all the same score; if we wanted a better grade, we had to work together to improve. Mr. Price made learning enjoyable and tangible by doing everything he could to bring the outside world into practice in our classroom; that’s something I believe every student should have the opportunity to experience.
I’m so appreciative of my 12th grade English teacher Mr. Gillespie at Lake Oswego High School. His overflowing love of language, fiction, and drama was contagious. I always loved how he made sure we grasped the meaning of every passage of Chaucer or Shakespeare, even while chuckling with us at the sillier bits. The other brilliant thing about Mr. Gillespie is how he was genuinely interested in what we high schoolers thought about the texts, and in fact expected that we would find some new insight or interpretation from what must have been for him very well-trod ground. He created an environment where it was very easy to form opinions and find our voices. Lastly, he was a terrific mentor to me while I was applying to colleges and lacked family support or guidance with the process. He is without a doubt the standout teacher from my public school experience.
Evelyn Kittrell taught me the power of embracing who I was and my own voice. After school, she would keep me every day to work on my oratory skills, so that, and I quote, I could understand how to use that big voice inside just waiting to get out and change the world. Her teaching and her words have reminded me every day that my voice is powerful and deserves to be heard. And every day, I am grateful that I got to be her student in my life because she changed an 8-year old’s trajectory forever.
I’d like to take a moment to thank Mrs. Alonna Rudolph, my AP U.S. History teacher at Guilderland Central High School. Mrs. Rudolph found ways to creatively engage the class in U.S. history by infusing local field trips, extra credit challenges, and storytelling into our assignments. By encouraging us to incorporate technology and video into our assignments, I learned how to bring history to life (and I’ll never forget creating political ads for the Federalist party!). Thank you for teaching our class how examining our past in new, creative ways can help usher in positive change for the future.
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