In honor of World Teachers Day, we here at The Dime decided to reflect back on the teachers who were monumental in shaping each of us into the individuals we are today. The stories are different, but the message throughout is the same: the sheer force of a teacher believing in and helping you to be your very best. It’s why we’re so glad to call all of Colorado’s teachers PERA members.
Mrs. G was an instrumental part of my high school education. An incredible history teacher and advocate of her students, she encouraged me to compete in National History Day before I had found my voice to do so on my own. I chose to focus on early Zionism, antisemitism, and the defamation in Europe at the early turn of the century (pre-Holocaust).
To convey emotion, I converted an old worn-down dresser into my presentation with hand-burned papers and stained wood. The topic was dense, so I wanted the visuals to be dense, too. My presentation ended up winning first place at the city and state levels, qualifying me to go to nationals, but then, all of a sudden, I was disqualified. When we asked why, we were told that it was due to (false) accusations that my parents had created it for me because it was “so” well done and thought-out. I couldn’t believe the accusations; I was dumbfounded.
Having worked tirelessly with me on the presentation, Mrs. G not only defended me wholeheartedly, she protested the decision, and spoke openly about the issue with her students for years to come. Without knowing, she taught me two valuable lessons at the young age of 17:
- As long as others are oppressed, you can’t be free.
- If you have a voice, you should use it.
Going into high school, I never could have imagined that I’d find a specific subject I was so excited—let alone one that would come to impact my career. I wasn’t very good at history or motivated by science, so I came in not knowing really what to do. Then I heard about a class called DECA where you could compete in real-world business scenarios with other schools. I was encouraged by Mr. N, the business teacher and DECA advisor, to participate.
I competed at the local and state levels over the course of my high school career, and through the experience discovered my love of business marketing. When it came time to apply to college, I only set my eye on business school because of my time in DECA and Mr. N’s support. Thank you, Mr. N, for shaping my future, and for always supporting your students!
I have enjoyed writing for as long as I can remember. In elementary school I'd spend hours on my mom's borrowed electric typewriter (I'm dating myself here) writing fictional stories inspired by my favorite books of the time: The Baby-Sitters Club and Sweet Valley Twins series, Ramona Quimby, Age 8, and pretty much anything by Judy Blume. As I got older, my creative writing pursuits gradually gave way to the mandates of school: book reports, essays, and everything in between. I wasn't deterred, though; I embraced this necessary pivot, and found myself enjoying academic writing just as much as I did fiction.
In my junior year of high school, Mr. M came into my life. As my AP English teacher, he helped me hone my raw talent, but perhaps more importantly, develop my critical thinking and analytic skills. He taught me not only how to evaluate, synthesize, and cite my research to produce evidence-based analytic and argumentative essays, but also how to establish my voice in the process. I learned that a succinct, convincing presentation of my thoughts is just as important as the grammatical accuracy and content flow I had been so attuned to prior to my class with him. Mr. M contributed greatly to my confidence as a writer, critical thinker, and global citizen, and is much of the reason behind my choosing to ultimately pursue a degree in journalism in college. As content strategy and creation continue to be a common thread throughout my career since then, I'm forever grateful for Mr. M's mentorship, and for his belief in my abilities.
In what ways did your favorite teacher believe in and support you? Sound off in the comments below!