To honor Teacher Appreciation Week this week, we asked you to send us stories about your favorite teachers. The response on Facebook and The Foundry was tremendous. Here are a few of the inspiring memories you shared:
1. Ms. Laura Berquist
Although Laura Berquist wasn’t my teacher personally growing up, her story inspires me. She didn’t have an advanced degree in education, but she knew exactly what she wanted her six children to learn. Modern schooling had produced generations of students who could recite facts but couldn’t put them in any critical context—and thus were easily led by faddish ideas rather than focusing on the quest for truth. Mrs. Berquist advocates a return to primary education based on the traditional studies of grammar, logic and rhetoric. She wrote the book on it—Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum—and founded her own long-distance learning program. This sort of local innovation is driving the success of school choice nationwide. We appreciate teachers such as Laura Berquist on the front lines.
–Jim DeMint, President of The Heritage Foundation and author, Falling in Love with America Again
2. Mr. George Dillman
Mr. Dillman understood the power of keeping the students interested. He would dress in the clothing of the period of history he was teaching. The actual relics he brought in and let the students examine helped to engage all of us and inspired us to want more. … He understood that he didn’t “own” the knowledge, but was merely a curator taking care of it until passed to the next generation.
–Jim Van Landingham
3. Mrs. Dorothy Williams
The teacher I look back on as having made the most difference was my 10th grade algebra teacher, Dorothy Williams, back in 1966. I was ADHD through all my childhood back when they didn’t know what it was and didn’t have a name for it. I was labeled a troubled kid because I couldn’t sit still, my mind was always racing ahead to the next task and I was a bit of a social outcast. I always had trouble with reasoning because I couldn’t focus on a topic long enough to reason it out, so as a result I had trouble with math when I started getting into algebra. During my freshman year, I took Algebra I and didn’t have a clue… I didn’t understand the teacher, her lectures or the textbook, and no one had the stamina to teach me. So I failed the course. Immediately, my high school counselor had me tracked for a vocational career and for the next three years tried to push me into courses such as wood shop and auto mechanics. But that is not what I wanted for my life, so I signed up for Algebra I again with Mrs. Williams. For the first month I struggled, but Mrs. Williams seemed to figure me out pretty quickly. She’d allow me to ask questions in class, questions that sounded strange to everyone because that’s how my mind was playing it out. She’d let me ask her questions in the brief time we had between classes, and she started showing me little tricks and other paths to answer the same algebraic principles. And suddenly, it clicked… by the end of the semester I had kicked my grade up to a B, and by the end of the year I aced my final exam and had worked my way up to an A. After that, I never made less than an A in any math course, in high school or college, even though I continued to be (and still am) ADHD and have never been on any medication for it. Mrs. Williams seemed to be able to figure out how my mind worked and reframed the subject matter so I could see it differently. What she taught me to do helped me teach myself how to focus and how to learn. In my senior year I had all A’s and a couple of B’s, and I was able to tell my school counselor that she could shove her vocational school because I was going to college. And thanks to the new path Mrs. Williams put me on, I was able to graduate from one of the top universities in Texas and earn two graduate degrees. Mrs. Williams died several years ago, and I always wished I could have seen her one more time to tell her what she had done for me and how it completely changed my life. So thank you Mrs. Williams … I’ll never forget you.
4. Ms. Jessica Holen
She’s always going above and beyond for her students, and they love her for it. She doesn’t just teach, she makes a real connection with her students, so much so that many of them call her Mom. She’s all too willing to do anything for her students, even at the expense of her sleep, her free time and sometimes her sanity.
–Doug Wheaton Jr.
5. Mr. Raymond Sunday
I would like to nominate Mr. Raymond Sunday for always being there for the students. He loved his black coffee, crackers, and an orange. He was the only teacher I knew who could crush an apple in his bare hand. He always encouraged the students to do their best. He even talked to me about joining the military.
6. Mrs. Nusame
Best most dedicated teacher ever was my first-grade teacher. She used her lunch time to teach me to read. (I had dyslexia but it was unknown at the time, 56 years ago).
7. Mrs. Fisher
I am 58 years old and I still remember Mrs. Fisher, my third-grade teacher in Topeka, Kan. She would daily get her Bible out and read to her class.
8. Mrs. Larry Briggs
My sixth-grade teacher…her caring, soft manner and appreciation of my love of art influenced me my entire life.
9. Ms. Jeter
Carolyn Jeter, my high school English teacher. She was funny, smart and encouraged us to both think and write organized and thorough thoughts.
10. Mrs. Mancuso
Mrs. Mancuso frightened the daylights out of me. But I appreciate her uncompromising dedication to making me achieve my greatest potential!
–Karen Colletti Kibodeaux