Teachers Who Inspire: Stories from Grateful Students

In recognition of National Teacher Appreciation Day (part of May 3-7 Teacher Appreciation Week), we want to pause and consider the vital role that our dedicated and hard-working educators play in our society -- and in our lives. Just take a look at the names of a few of the teachers who have enriched our planet over the centuries: Confucius, Aristotle, Isaac Newton, Maria Montessori, Galileo, Ayn Rand, Stephen Hawking, William Dubois and Albert Einstein.

So, what describes a teacher? Here's a quote that says it all:

"The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires." -- William A. Ward

Chances are, you remember a favorite teacher or two from your years as a student. Perhaps it was a math instructor whose patient tutoring helped you comprehend that algebra formula; or a Spanish teacher who coached you until you were rolling your Rs perfectly; or maybe a homeroom teacher who made all the class projects really, really fun, as well as instructive.

Most likely, these were good or superior teachers who explained and demonstrated your way to true learning. But the truly inspirational teachers are in a league all their own. These are the ones who change people's lives -- forever.

Here are six stories from grateful students describing the teachers that inspired them:

  • A fifth-grade teacher turned a reluctant reader into a lover of the written word, a reader-turned writer!

  • A middle-school history teacher's straight talk helped a misguided young man shed his "armor" of rebellion and decide what he wanted his future to be -- or not to be.

  • A second-grade teacher lit a permanent fire in this student's enthusiasm -- and imagination -- with a game called Fairies Go Tapping.

  • A high-school civics and history teacher's lively teaching style really engaged his students, and instilled an avid interest in politics in one reader -- who declares that his career path was caused by Clausen.

  • A third-grade teacher expected -- and got -- the best from all of her students, and also taught by example to do what you love. Let's call her the female version of Mr. Feeny!

  • A high-school art teacher's mentorship and encouragement really brought this shy new-girl-in-school out of her shell -- and into a career as a graphic designer, in a classic example of art imitating life.

Our hats are off to all those outstanding teachers that inspire. And please feel free to share your own favorite-teacher stories!

Next:Stories of inspiring teachers >>

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