Monday, May 5, 2014

My Most Influential Teacher

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The first week of May is traditionally "Teacher Appreciation Week" in the United States. National Teacher Appreciation Day is tomorrow, May 6. For the last three years, I have served as the rep on our PTO at the elementary over "Teacher Appreciation," so it is always on my mind at this time of year.

I love teachers and I have had many influential teachers over the years. I have had many amazing teachers, and interestingly as I make my short list of my most influential teachers, they were all English teachers. Do you think that it is any coincidence that I later got a degree in none other than English? I would guess not. Teachers have an amazing power to touch the lives of their students.

As I think about my influential teachers, there are many who are notable, but one really stands out to me. She is Karen LaFlamme. Mrs. LaFlamme was my English teacher in 7th grade. It was an honors English class. I remember it being challenging. I remember her having high expectations. I remember her being the only English teacher I had who managed to have required reading while still encouraging us to read things we had an interest in. 

When I was leaving Jr. High and heading off to high school, I was notified that I was not accepted to honors English there. I was devastated. I went back to Mrs. LaFlamme to talk to her about it. I think the fact that I went to her and not my 8th or 9th grade English teachers speaks volumes by itself. I knew she cared.

And she did. She went to the 10th grade honors English teacher and asked her why I had not been accepted into the honors program. Turns out it was because of a citizenship grade I had in a science class (long story--that teacher was fun but had no ability, nor desire, to control the class and we may have taken advantage of that. We all got bad citizenship grades). Mrs. LaFlamme talked with the sophomore teacher and assured her that I was a great student. In the end, I was admitted to the program where I excelled. I eventually went on to get a degree in English. Had Mrs. LaFlamme not intervened, I highly doubt I would have thought myself adept enough at English to degree in it. 

I never did forget her. I remember sending her a thank-you note when I was a senior in high school. I thanked her for her huge impact on my life. She dramatically changed the course of my life--who knows if I would even be writing this blog if it weren't for her simple and yet powerful act all those years ago. 

So thank you to all of those teachers who care. Thank you to those teachers who care enough that their students know, even years later, they can return to them in their time of need. Thank you to the teachers who encourage students to do their best. Thank you to teachers who believe in their students and build confidence in them. Your influence is far reaching and spreads across the masses and throughout generations.

Thanks to  www.webucator.com for organizing this blog campaign!

Who was your most influential teacher?

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