Celebrating the Impact of Awesome Educators

May 5, 2015

As I was contemplating what I might right to really highlight the importance of honoring our teachers during Teacher Appreciation Week (and every week for that matter), I received a friend request on Facebook from my 6th grade teacher. Talk about strange timing.

While I remember bits and pieces of the years I spent with each of my teachers, she was by far my favorite. I always felt noticed in her class -- like she knew exactly where I excelled and where I needed extra prodding, despite the fact that she had 20-some other students needing the same amount of attention. She challenged each of us, but I still remember how she limited our homework load because she believed family time was just as important as schoolwork.

She simply knew how to leave a lasting impact and, in my eyes, that's at the root of a really amazing teacher.

Here are a few other stories of teachers who no doubt impact the lives they touch -- those teachers that students would be happy to get a friend request from some 15 years after leaving their classroom.

Teachers making a difference 

A Day in the Life of an AP Science Teacher
"Ben never entered teaching to get rich. He found a true calling, realizing the profound impact he could have on his students, both how they view the natural world and the universe around them, but also how their excitement for his classes carries over into their perspective on their entire education." Read more. 

You'll Never Guess What This Teacher's Side Gig Is
“It’s always crushing to have to say goodbye to what has become a family at the end of the year. Most teachers will tell you this and it’s true. I learn as much from my students as they learn from me.” Read more.

Financial Literacy in Schools: How One Woman is Changing the Tide 
"Her goal is simple. She wants to ensure that every student leaves Englewood Public Schools with the basic financial and economic knowledge and reasoning skills to make sound financial decisions. And, she is having a lasting impact on the lives of thousands of students." Read more.

No Day is Typical: What it's Like to Work as a School Psychologist 
"When I talk with my husband about my job he often tells me, “I don’t know how you do it.” I know how. I reflect back to how teachers (and guidance counselors) helped me become who I am today and I realize the amazing responsibility and gift that is." Read more.

Teacher's Side Gig Has Her Student's Acting Out 
“I became a teacher because of my mom,” she said. “My mom often taught in schools with low economic status and quite a few at-risk students. I found that she was more than a teacher to most of those kids. She was the stability and love they weren’t getting at home.” Read more.

Life as a Public Employee: Juggling Finances and Family 
"What I hope to do is help students and families realize that bilingualism and multiculturalism are assets to our society, and that they should be proud of their identities. As decisions about language learning models and assessment are made, policy makers need to realize the same thing, and I hope to encourage this." Read more.

Parting thoughts from today's students

Recently, during Colorado PERA's Take Your Child to Work Day festivities, I asked some of the youngsters to tell me who their favorite teacher was and what they loved about him or her. Suffice it to say, there were some pretty awesome answers:

Sophia, Age 9:
"She loved her job and she made teaching fun for herself and school fun for kids in her class (including me!)."

Andy, Age 10:
"She was always nice when I did not get my work done. Also she would help me do my work. Last she was always nice and never yelled."

Anders, Age 6:
"She is nice. She teaches us good stuff."

Alex, Age 10:
"She was fair to everyone and was a great teacher. She taught us about everything and was just great."

Jacob, Age 11:
"She is really generous toward people in my class and everyone she meets."

Tanner, Age 16:
"The thing I love most about him is how supportive he is towards me and my academic studies and how he encourages me to test my athletic abilities. I know I can go to him with an issue, and he will help the best he can.

Chey, Age 11:
"He likes whatever I like."

Abigail, Age 7:
"She is passionate and she is important. She's not a mean teacher. There's a lot of things I like about her."