“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” – William Arthur Ward
Teachers play a huge role in mentoring and shaping the lives of children. As a child, I believed that teachers were infallible. While there are teachers who are not so great, most teachers are wonderful. They care about children who are not their own, and most would probably tell you the students they have are their kids. To highlight the importance of teachers, I would love to tell you about three of the most influential in my life and what made them have such a vast impact.
Mrs. Mowers was my fourth-grade teacher from 1989-1990. She taught me to use my imagination, enjoy working, and show kindness. I vividly remember her reading the “Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing” to the class. She made that book come alive, and instilled in me a life-long love for Judy Blume books. Mrs. Mowers was fun too, and made learning enjoyable. I remember playing the math learning game Around the World as we studied our math facts. This game motivated me to study hard. She was also very kind. On one of our field trips, the class was on the bus with our bagged lunches, and I was sitting next to her. I fell asleep on the way there, and while I was sleeping, I squished her lunch completely. However, she didn’t get upset; she just teased me about it in a good-spirited way.
Mr. Ackley was my seventh-grade social studies teacher from 1992-1993. He taught me that it’s okay to do things differently and one doesn’t need to be at a desk to learn. He didn’t use textbooks because he said they were boring. Instead, we read novels written in or about the period we were studying. For the first time in my life, I understood that history was not just a bunch of boring stories about dead people; it was interesting and fun. He had desks for students that wanted them and for taking tests, but no one had to sit at a desk normally. He had a bean bag chair, a couch, rugs, and we could even sit on the floor. He had two rules: do not yawn when speaking and don’t interrupt him to go to the bathroom. He was also very interactive. When we studied the court system, we had mock trials. To learn about the American Revolution and what the tories and rebels believed, we had debates where we had to argue for one side or the other.
Mrs. Moyer was my eleventh-grade honors English teacher from 1996-1997. She inspired me to become a writer and taught me about respect. We had been long-time family friends, and on my first day of class she said, “I remember when you were in diapers.” One assignment in her class was creating a portfolio of written essays. It was well-known she didn’t give easy As. This made it very special when she returned one graded essay to me and said I’d earned an A, and not only that, I’d made her cry. It was those words that first inspired me to become a writer.
I also learned about respect from Mrs. Moyer. I used to read during the class while she was teaching. One day she kept another student and me after to talk to us. She said she never thought she would have to tell students to stop reading, however, she explained that we were being disrespectful by not paying attention to her while she was talking. I never thought of it that way. I wanted to read, so I listened to her while I read. But she said when we read while she was talking, it appeared that what she had to say wasn’t important. After the other student left, she told me that because she knew I was a Christian, she expected even more out of me. She didn’t expect me to be perfect, but there was a standard she expected.
These teachers, and so many more, had a huge impact on me because they took the time to speak into my life and help me grow. This is an opportunity all teachers have. They can make students want to learn more, instill in them a love of reading and writing, teach students how to find the answers to big questions, and so much more. I have been blessed with numerous outstanding teachers, and I encourage you to take the time to consider how you have grown because of the love of a teacher. Their job is difficult, dealing with administration, parents, and students, yet they do it out of the love they have for children and learning. It requires dedication, patience, and hard work. So I also encourage you to honor your teachers by remembering what they taught you. Not just the reading, writing, and arithmetic, but cultivating your imagination, instilling a love for reading, knowing what you believe, understanding arguments from both sides, and everything else you have picked up along the way.
“What is a teacher? I’ll tell you: it isn’t someone who teaches something, but someone who inspires the student to give her best to discover what she already knows.” – Paolo Coelho