Though this post isn’t about policy or some grand change that I’d like to see in the world of education, I do consider its premise to be an important one. I recently turned twenty-one years old, and with any birthday comes the need to remember those who have impacted our lives in various ways. I have several “favorite” teachers, people who influenced me in different ways and without whom I would truly not be the person I am today. My hope is that telling two of my own “favorite teacher” tales will encourage you to also reflect and be thankful for the teachers who changed your life in immeasurable ways.
My kindergarten teacher was immensely important to me. She was the first person who introduced me to the world of schools and her calm, understanding demeanor was perfect for any five year-old. Mrs. Bond had to deal with my nonstop talkativeness, my type A personality, and my sensitive nature, and for that I am thankful. Though she no longer teaches and has since moved away from our small eastern North Carolina town, I am nonetheless constantly mindful of her impact on me some fifteen years ago.
Credit: Georgia Vick
I mentioned a few weeks ago that Mrs. Bond instilled within me a love of reading. Truthfully, I don’t remember much of the details of my kindergarten experience, but what I do remember is that a love of reading was only the beginning of Mrs. Bond’s lasting impact on her students. Many of the people in my kindergarten class are still friends of mine, and whenever I bring up her name, the opinion that her patient, caring nature changed lives is unanimous.
My favorite teacher in high school, far and away, was Mrs. Galloway. She is opposite Mrs. Bond in so many ways, but we had a mutual respect and admiration for one another that was and still is palpable. She introduced me to my love of public speaking, was never afraid to call me out on anything and everything, and was the last person to hug me before I graduated high school. I had her as a teacher for three years of high school, and it would be foolish of me to say that I would be at Carolina without her influence.
Credit: Hayden Vick
Mrs. Galloway and I still text occasionally, whether reminiscing about years past or my visiting her classroom on my visits home. While I’ve been writing this, I think I’ve thought of the most central reason why she had such a heavy impact on my life: She challenged me! And I don’t just mean that her class was too hard or that she urged me to perform at a higher academic level. She challenged me by never saying the things I most wanted to hear in certain scenarios. If I wanted empty approval just to hear it, she wasn’t going to give it to me because she knew it wouldn’t do me any good in the long run. She made me answer for myself. She once told me that she didn’t know if I could handle taking her IB History class because I was too talkative. She made me accountable, and I think of her impact on me all the time.
Who was your favorite teacher? My reflection is one we should all consider more often, for we tend to forget that the people who influenced us the most came largely from classrooms. Take the time to think back fondly on your best schooling experiences and, more importantly, the teachers who made them happen.