The Impact of a Teacher

After reflecting on the challenge put forth by George Couras on Twitter (if you don’t follow him, you are crazy because he will challenge the way you look at things, trust me) Anyway, each week he puts out a question for you to answer via twitter #EDUin30 and trust me, it is definitely something you want to check out, just to see what other educators out there are sharing. So this week’s question asked to share a teacher that had an impact on my life, and I won’t lie I had to stop and think because there had been so many that have played a part in making me the teacher that I am today. I couldn’t sum it up in a 30 sec video, so a blog post it had to be.

When I was younger, I grew in a very small town of less than 100 people.  I literally went to a school where there were only 2 classes – one was grades 1-3 and the other was grades 4-6.  Each class probably had less than fifteen students, but somehow the school still stayed open.  My teacher in the primary grades was also our school principal, Audrey Fagervold (hopefully I spelled this correctly). She was strict and tough, but you knew she cared.  She demanded the best of her students, and we worked hard to live up to her expectations. But she was the first to stop you in the hall and ask if your mom was feeling better, to stop to show you a book she found that she knew I would love (I was a voracious reader back then). When I was college many years later and had my son, who I would end up raising on my own, she showed up to visit me at my parent’s house.  She gave my son a stuffed tiger that he still has to this day. She told me not to give up on my dream of being a teacher, she said it wasn’t going to be easy, but she knew I could do it. It honestly amazed me that she kept tabs on me, even though I left her school in grade 6 and never looked back. It showed me the power of a teacher who cared.

When I was in high school, I struggled with math.  I was a horrible math student, I hated math and it hated me, but I needed it to graduate and go to college.  My Math 10 teacher, Mrs. Dekker, would work with me on her lunch hours, tutoring me and helping me figure out algebra and somehow helped me pass Math 10, 20 and 30 literally by the skin of my teeth. She had her work cut out for her, but she never let me give up on myself.  From her, I learned how sometimes a teacher can help those students who give up on themselves to show them they can do it, they just need to try, need to find a different way to face the challenges in front of them.

When I was in college, I won’t lie the first two years were a bit of a waste of time.  I was a small town girl getting a taste of the “big city” and fell into the party scene that can occur in those first few years. I didn’t go to classes very often, handed my assignments in late if at all.  I was put on academic probation after the first year and by the end of the first semester of my 2nd year, I was totally bottoming out.  The dean of ed there at the time hauled me into his office and asked what I was doing, why was I wasting everyone’s time?  I told him I didn’t know, so he sent me home, told me he wanted to hear from me when I figured it out.  So I spent the next 6 months doing every job on the planet, but nothing made me happy, nothing challenged me.  It wasn’t until I took a summer job working with kids that I figured it out.  So I went back to college, met the dean and explained to him that a teacher was who I was supposed to be. He asked me what would be different if he let me back in, I explained before I was unsure this was the path I was supposed to take, but now I knew. He didn’t have to give me that second chance, but he did.  I haven’t looked back since and have been teaching for almost 20 years. I wish I could tell him how much I appreciate the fact he gave me that chance to prove myself. From him, I learned the importance of never giving up on a student, however challenging they may be.

The last group that have helped me grow is my #plngelato, a group of amazing teachers I am lucky to call friends. Kelli Holden, Zoe Bettess, Dana Ariss and Paige Couras – you have helped me grow so much as a teacher with the conversations we have had, the things we have done together. You have challenged my thinking, opened my eyes to the possibilities. You have made me laugh and helped me when things got tough and I needed a shoulder to cry on. You are my people, my tribe… I know I can count on you.

So, as I look ahead, to these teachers who have helped shape me into the teacher I am today, I say thank you to all of you, from the bottom of my heart. I could only hope to someday be that teacher to one of my students like you were to me.


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