Like most “National Recognition Days”, appreciation for teachers should happen not just one day of the year – but 365. Unless you have put in the labor or have witnessed it first-hand, you really do not understand what it takes to educate the world’s future generations. I will keep my soap box off to the side and not get into the gripes and grievances towards those who still consider teachers as “glorified babysitters”, or how we are fairly paid, or how vacation days are not needed seeing as “THEY HAVE THE WHOLE SUMMERS OFF”, etc., ect.
Instead, I would like to recognize the teachers that have made an impact in my life specifically. When asked who my favorite teachers are, these few never fail to come to mind. They were not always the nicest or the easiest, but they each stand out to me in a particular way.
If you graduated from Grand Ledge Public Schools, chances are you know Mrs. Hansbarger. This lady was the grandma that you never had. She was my kindergarten teacher that showed me play time was crucial to learning. Her classroom was a massive space with a playhouse that – with her imagination – was often changed between a country house, to a pizza parlor, to a local grocery market. The fact that Mrs. Hansbarger showed her compassion and her love for her students made her approachable with good news and bad news. When I was in kindergarten, Garrison was born and I was a new, big sister. Mrs. Hansbarger took a special trip to my house to meet my new baby brother because she knew how special he was to me. The love and genuine care she showed to her students is something I will never forget.
When a young Alexandra entered the crazy world of middle school in 6th grade, she was scared and intimidated. However, I feel that this is where my charming personality and phenomenal sense of humor developed. This can be directly related back to Mr. Helmic, my 6th grade ELA teacher. Mr. Helmic was a new teacher, handsome, and also SUPER funny. He made learning one of my least favorite subjects fun. He introduced projects that displayed our creativity and humor instead of forcing us to write essays on essays. He shared personal stories with us of his adventures and his schooling experiences. He made himself human and showed that teachers were not just people who sat behind a desk grading papers, but enjoyed getting to know his students and joke around with them. He showed that teaching and learning was fun and became the inspiration that brought me to this career.
If you know anything about me, you know how important American History is to me. I have a passion for teaching social studies which developed from my 8th grade U.S. History teacher, Mrs. Janes. Talk about making history come alive in her class. When we learned about the pirates and early explorers of the Caribbean, she turned our desks into pirate ships. When we embarked on the Civil War, we each became soldiers of either the Union or Confederate army and competed with the other side to see who would win the war. Mrs. Janes not only made learning exciting, but she displayed why it was important and how it impacts us today. She made U.S. history meaningful and amazing – which has clearly stuck with me 10 years later.
Science has never been my forte. I have this mindset that, if someone has already figured out why two hydrogens and one oxygen makes water, then I do not need to understand why this works. I know this isn’t the best of thinking, but my opinion. Mr. Beauman understood this. He knew that not everyone would get the importance of science, but still made his instruction more interesting and exciting. He wanted to make sure that you understood the basic concepts and then have the minor details come later. He was easy going and he took your opinions into consideration. It wasn’t “his way or the highway”, he simply valued hard work – which is something I admire.
“Hello, hello, hello!” Every week, Dr. Norma Bailey would start that week’s lecture the same way. With arms wide open, she would then take 15 minutes of her lesson to hear her kids’ thoughts of good news, bad news, or any news. For a college professor, this is a rarity. Norma brought me under her wing, like all her little ducklings, and showed me my potential. She not only helped me grow as an educator, but as a human being as well. As a college student, I thought my views and ideas were set. She challenged my beliefs and made me look at the world in a different perspective. To say that this had an effect on me is an understatement. She changed the way I handle difficult people (students or colleagues), how to address social issues, and how to embrace the diversity of our world. Norma is one of the few people in my life that I can email my grievances, my worries, or silly questions to without the fear of being judged or embarrassed. Only those who have had Dr. Bailey understand why we do things in life; to simply find our starfish.
I have had many great teachers in my academic career. It might take me awhile to remember all of these teachers, but these few will never be forgotten. They each stand out specifically for one reason – what they did, not what they taught. I do not remember for what state standards they taught me. I remember them because of the life lessons I gained from each one. I found my passions from these teachers and each one has shaped me to be the person I am today.
This is why teachers need to be appreciated not just one day a year, but every day. Great teachers do not teach to simply check off the standards each year, we teach to shape lives.
I will bet my high-ranked salary on the fact that each and everyone of us are the person we are today because of one or a few teachers. It is about time more and more people realize this fact.
Appreciate your teachers. They undoubtedly deserve it.