Thankful for Teachers

As Thanksgiving approaches we reflect on all that we cherish in our lives. We wanted to take this opportunity to recognize some of the teachers who have played a part in creating some of the amazing educators and bloggers we work with today. We hope you enjoy the read and we invite you to write a tribute of your own in the comments. Happy Thanksgiving!

Suzanne Bright

When asked to recount stories of their favorite teachers, most get aboard a mental train and travel far back in time to the fond days of pigtails and playgrounds, where they cannot help but reminisce about chalk dust, the smell of an old gym floor, and that one teacher who forever changed them, inspired them, challenged them, left that indelible mark on their soul.

Many remember with great nostalgia the teacher who believed in them and told them so. The teacher who demonstrated care and compassion. The one who showed them the path to greatness and instilled in them the discipline, strength, and patience to navigate around the obstacles that littered that path. The teacher who gave them hope. The one who made learning come alive, made the content relevant, and even shared in some laughs and fun along the way.

As I am asked to recall a teacher for whom I am grateful, my mental travels are quite brief. In fact my mental train does not even leave the station, for my favorite teacher is one whom I currently have as a professor and advisor as I work toward my ultimate goal of a doctoral degree. Here I am mid-career, with a few wrinkles on my face and children of my own, and the one teacher who has inspired me most is doing so today. You see, adult learners are not so unlike those pig-tailed learners who yearn for inspiration, acceptance, and compassion. Dr. Shelton Smith demonstrates a genuine interest in me and a sincere desire to share his knowledge and expertise. He pushes, pulls, and inspires me, and watches as I gain the confidence in myself that he has had in me all along.

So while the stories and memories of the teacher for whom I am most thankful do not reside in my past, they are being created today, in my present. Thank you, Dr. Smith.

Katy Cortelyou

I am fortunate to have had so many amazing teachers, so it is hard to uplift just one. I would like to celebrate several influential teachers. My first teacher, my mom, Letty Cortelyou, was a Kindergarten teacher herself. She was my very first teacher and to this day continues to teach, guide and support. Mrs. Bentley, my high school calculus teacher instilled a passion for learning and challenged us each and every day. Dr. Mary Virginia Peaslee, my early childhood professor at Florida Southern College taught me about the importance of early learning as well as the importance of respecting and honoring the teaching profession through my actions and decisions. Diane Herring, my first principal, has had such an incredible influence upon my development as a teacher. I am the educator I am today because of the lessons learned while working for her. I wish I could list them all…so many teachers have touched my life and I only hope that I am touching students’ lives in the ways that my teachers impacted mine.

Laurie Fairchild

What a wonderful time of year to take a moment to remember a teacher that influenced us in a profound way. One teacher that inspired me as a student in our small town of Chillicothe, Missouri was John Wheeler. I had Mr. Wheeler for Journalism. We had a great time putting the school newspaper together, but he also taught us how to tell a story. For one such assignment we had to write about a fellow classmate. Our task was to tell about the student in a way that would let the reader understand his personality and what made him tick. After turning in this assignment, Mr. Wheeler asked if he could read my piece to the class as I had allowed him to get to know Tim Lightner, fellow student and subject of my piece. I had met his learning goal and received such positive feedback for my writing! I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Mr. John Wheeler for making me feel like a real writer!

Patricia Handly

I give thanks to many teachers-past and present, in-school and out-of-school-all of whom have contributed to making me the teacher and person I am today. But one person out of many shines the brightest. Here was his message:

Teaching IS the most noble profession. It is a profession based on giving, where you will learn humility and compassion. If you apply yourself, you just might become great-minded and GREAT-HEARTED.

Always, but especially on Thanksgiving, I give thanks to this man, my father, for his constancy in guiding me toward this rich and rewarding profession. Now in my 41st year as an educator, the passion remains. Thank you, Dad, for igniting a fire in my teaching soul, for setting such a high standard for my work, and for teaching me to wrap a multicolored ribbon of love around every student.

Rena Hawkins

It is difficult to find the right words to express my gratitude for my English teacher during my junior year of high school. Miss Kapono was the first teacher who did not teach reading out of a basal or expect her students to answer the questions at the end of the story or from a chapter-by-chapter packet. She taught me to love literature and to interact with the words on the page. Messages in poetry opened up for me in amazing ways. Writing projects were a welcome experience and an opportunity for choice and creativity.

Miss Kapono connected with her students. She laughed with us and cared about us, chaperoning weekend ski trips and camping trips to Disney’s Fort Wilderness. I am blessed to have had this amazing woman impact my life and influence my decision to become an educator. Again, it is difficult to find the right words to express my gratitude for someone who seemed larger than life to a young student who was trying to find her way in the world. She will always hold a special place in my heart!

Gail Huizinga

A powerful teacher does not have to come into one’s life during childhood or even adolescence to truly make a difference. My greatest “teacher” was my colleague when I first began teaching sixth grade. Mrs. Sue Johnson took me under her wing that first year, and over the course of many years, taught me valuable lessons I still remember and employ today. She tutored me on best practice in the classroom and what strong instruction looks like. I grew as an educator throughout my time as her colleague. I will always be grateful for the timeless lessons she taught me those many years ago.

Marni Kay

Marni Kay and her Papa

When asked to think about the one teacher who truly made a difference in my life-someone I recall with fondness and gratitude-my thoughts went immediately to “Papa.” My grandfather was the epitome of a lifelong educator…he spent over 30 years as a middle school art educator in New York. After that he spent the rest of his life inspiring his family to love learning. Our discussions were frequently about teaching and education, and he always challenged me to continue growing. I am so thankful for our time together!

Ann Leon

I’m thankful for a high school teacher, Chris Christianson, who placed equal importance on building relationships with his students as he did in teaching the content area of anatomy and physiology. His class was motivating and engaging because he took interest in me as an individual. Mr. Chris knew my interests and goals beyond high school. It was because of his influence that I considered biology and physiology as a major in college. I found the subject to be interesting and worth pursuing because he included relationship and relevance in the rigor of the content.