Ask any adult to recall their favorite teacher and almost all will respond with a name…and a grade level taught… and usually a reason why. For many, it’s an emotional answer that brings a memory to the mind and a smile to the heart.
Although every answer to that question is different, there is usually one common thread. Our memories aren’t just academic. They aren’t solely rooted in the facts we learned.
Instead, what we often remember most is how our favorite teachers made us feel. What’s memorable – almost for a lifetime – is how that teacher connected with us. They cared. They inspired. They pushed. They fought for us. They were patient. They were tough. They laughed with us and probably more than a few cried with us. And often in that moment, they made a lasting impact.
Other than parents, teachers may occupy the most important role in our lives. I often talk about “life-changing teachers.” I consider myself an expert on the subject because my kids had several — like the unmatched first grade teacher that instilled in both Brian and Laura a love of reading that shaped their education and still enriches their lives. Or Brian’s third grade teacher who taught with such joy and creativity that parents jockeyed for volunteer spots in her class. Or Laura’s fourth grade teacher who nurtured and guided her through some serious test anxiety. (Yep, sometimes after a standardized test you just have to sit on your teacher’s lap and cry it out.)
In middle school, my kids had teachers who met them where they were (not always a pleasant destination at that age), accepted that they were a work in progress, and found their unique qualities to foster, amplify and celebrate.
In high school, there were teachers who never knew they were role models, and ultimately became friends. Ten years after graduation, Brian and his economics teacher are still connected. For Laura, who literally grew up in the dance studio, the life lessons of discipline, drive and passion that she learned from her dance directors and teachers will be with her forever.
It’s because of teachers like these – -and too many more to mention – that our Education Guide is my favorite issue. It’s a chance to not only applaud Gwinnett’s excellent educators, but also a time to recognize the tremendous value that outstanding education – at every level – brings to our community. And if you know one of those life-changing teachers, this is a great time to tell them thank you!
Hope you’re having a great summer!
P.S. Voting for 2015 Best of Gwinnett is now open at www.GwinnettMagazine.com/vote!