Fact: A teacher can have a lasting impression on a student. Of course, children (and teachers) may not realize just how meaningful those interactions are, or how much a particular educator’s lesson “stuck” until long after the school bell rings. However, it’s never too late to reflect on one’s most memorable teacher and to thank him or her for the lessons they taught – whether those lessons were part of the three R’s or something intangible like believing in oneself.
As we celebrate amazing teachers during Teacher Appreciation Week, we asked some of KinderCare Education’s Educator Award winners about the teacher who most inspired them.
“My college social work professor Dr. David Droppa never let anyone give up on themselves,” said Megan Martina, an infant teacher in Greensburg, Pa. “He always helped us to do and be our best no matter what.”
Although Dr. Droppa was a pillar in the community, and his time was in high demand by multiple people, he always found time to help his students when they needed it, Martina explained. To this day, teacher and student staying in touch and forming long-lasting connections like that is a lesson Martina carries into her classroom. According to her Center Director Denise Stoner, Martina treats her students and their parents like her own family.
“No request goes unanswered,” said Stoner. “No concern goes without a response. She cares about these children and that shows in everything she does.”
Prekindergarten teacher Sue Davies remembers her kindergarten teacher Mrs. Carolea so clearly (short, dark hair, “a little bit older”) it’s almost as though they’re back in the classroom together. Davies recalls Mrs. Carolea as the epitome of an early childhood educator; kind, gentle, approachable, and possessing a general sense of calm, the kind of teacher who made every child feel accepted and included in classroom activities. A passionate believer in the importance of early childhood education, the lessons Davies learned from her kindergarten teacher still inform her teaching practices today.
“Even at that age I knew she was taking the time to get to know each of her students,” said Davies. “I try to keep her in mind in my class and take time to spend with each child. The children are unique: some are more outgoing, some are more reserved, but everyone has a time to shine in here.”
Being compassionate, caring, and kind to every child is a lesson Janet Simons, an infant teacher in Shoreview, Minn., also learned through an inspirational teacher: her fifth grade history teacher.
“She did not overlook people,” said Simons. “She took time to listen to others and make them feel important and wanted. She took time to acknowledge and help students who needed extra support or attention to their needs.”
No doubt these teacher and others are inspiring future educators in their classrooms. We encourage you to take a moment to reflect on a teacher you had whose lessons continue to impact you today. And please, thank a teacher for all he or she does. A teacher truly is an unsung hero.