The Best Teacher I Ever Had: Teacher Appreciation

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, members of the Operation Warm team are sharing personal stories of “The Best Teacher I Ever Had.”

Do you have your own story to tell? Email Mary Ann maromans@operationwarm.org so we can recognize the special teacher in your life. You can also Tweet your story and tag @OperationWarm.

You can also thank a teacher with an ecard and a donation.

The Best Teacher I Ever Had Changed My Path

I came from a low-income family, and I was picked on for being the poor girl. In middle school, I started getting involved with the wrong crowd: drugs, mischief and 12-year-olds getting pregnant. My teacher pulled me aside one day and told me she thought I was too intelligent for that. Instead, she wanted me in the gifted program. I was hesitant, but she kept encouraging me to take the test to get into the program. I made it, and from that point on, I began to gain confidence in myself and started hanging out with my fellow “nerds” from the program—much better influences. I realized that I liked school and I wanted to succeed.  Liz Lewis

The Best Teacher I Ever Had Made Me Want to Make a Difference

Mr. Andrew Battend had a way of inspiring us to think beyond the classroom. In eighth grade, he told us to write an essay on the different meanings of the statement “We are living history.” It has been 20 years, yet I still think of that assignment. He also got me to understand the power of consequences in the real world. In retrospect, it really inspired my interest in public policy. Thanks, Mr. Battend! Grace Sica

The Best Teacher I Ever Had Transformed Me into an Organizer

Before I met Mr. Jack Strausser, it seemed truly impossible that a stack of index cards could be morphed into anything useful. He taught one of the most dreaded classes in all of junior high school: research reporting. We had to produce 15-page reports on assigned topics, and this was long before the Internet, so it was library research and those index cards. Tricky Mr. Strausser introduced us to the magic of outlining. Roman numerals and capital letters, then small Roman numerals and lower case letters – what a game changer for a disorganized kid!  From that one teacher, I learned how to prioritize and organize everything in my life.  Every time I reach into a file drawer and actually find the paper I’m looking for, I silently thank Mr. Strausser. Lee Fulton

The Best Teacher I Ever Had Influenced My Career

Mr. H was a FLEX program social studies teacher in Birmingham MI. He taught a course on media, which turned me on to the writings of Marshall McCluhan (The Medium is the Message, The Global Village, The Guttenberg Galaxy), which led me to a career in advertising. He challenged me to be a more creative thinker and a better writer. A very stimulating teacher who impacted my life in ways he will never know. Rich Lalley

The Best Teacher I Ever Had Found My Destiny

When I was in ninth grade, my English teacher was passing back book report assignments. It was the big assignment for the semester and our entire class sat in silence, nervously waiting to see how they did. I remember the moment my teacher placed my report onto my desk. It was face down. Immediately, I assumed I had done poorly. I was crushed.

I reluctantly flipped my report over and saw an A. I was shocked. That moment my teacher leaned down and asked, “Have you ever thought of becoming a writer?”

I could feel my face flush. I couldn’t muster anything but a “No, I haven’t.”

Her response was, “You should.” She smiled briefly then continued to hand out the remaining book reports to my peers. This was a small exchange, but for me it had such a positive impact. I respected this teacher immensely and to get such a positive comment from her gave me a lot of confidence when I needed it most. I went on to take Honors and AP English courses in my high school career and eventually majored in English at the University of Delaware. Now, I am writing every day for Operation Warm! I am so appreciative of this teacher for her encouragement. It caused me to completely redefine the way I looked at myself and set me on a career path that I love.   Sarah Tompkins

The Best Teacher I Ever Had Taught Me Anything Can Be a Story

Mrs Marzullo always entered the classroom slapping a ruler against her palm. She believed that we could do anything, including writing the multiplication tables a hundred times each. When a small group of us decided to use carbon paper to get them done more quickly, she made the entire class write those multiplication tables an additional two hundred times, so I learned social responsibility. She also taught this girl, mostly interested in writing stories, a different side of math and how numbers can tell stories of their own. Now I enjoy using digital data to “read” as many stories as I can.  Mary Ann Romans

The Best Teacher I Ever Had Dared Me to Dream Beyond My Bubble

I grew up in a small rural town in central Pennsylvania.  I always liked music, but didn’t have a lot of exposure to much outside of my dad’s classic rock collection and local top 40 radio.

My middle school music teacher David Sheaffer was a former session musician and worked hard to outfit our small school district with state-of-the-art musical equipment.  Through his guidance and passion for music, I was exposed to basic composition, music technology, world music and vocal performance.

For most kids, music class was an afterthought. But for me, it was a creative outlet and an eye into a world outside of my small bubble. Mr. Sheaffer was one of those few teachers that dared me to explore and dream beyond the horizon. Brock Clauser


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