Tuesday marks National Teacher Appreciation Day, so leading up to the big occasion, we had to ask: Who was your favorite teacher, growing up? What made that person so special and memorable?
The responses came pouring in -- and they were so heartfelt and touching. Thank you to everyone who filled out our form (there were more than 150 of you!)
We’ve compiled a bunch of answers, in hopes that perhaps the mentioned educator will get some recognition (so TAG that person if you recognize a name or school district!), and perhaps to serve as some inspiration: for future teachers, parents -- or maybe just to put a smile on your face.
Teachers are so good.
Editor’s note: Some responses have been edited for clarity, length and grammar. Readers could choose how many specifics they’d like to share, so some educators have first names and/or courtesy titles provided, others don’t. Some mention a geographical region, others do not.
‘She made you want to learn.’
Faith Taylor, who taught at Fischer Elementary in Taylor, Michigan.
“What I loved most about her was, she was hard on you, but she was fair. A lot of kids feared her, but she never had that effect on me. I loved being in her class. She made you want to learn. She was my sixth-grade teacher, and when I went in to junior high, I would go back and visit her and help her grade papers. She made such a huge impact that I wanted to become a teacher. When I graduated high school, I went to college to become a teacher, but I was not able to finish due to financial issues. I am 47 years old and to this day, I still keep in touch with her. She is just an all-around great human being and the best teacher I ever had. She will always hold a special place in my heart.”
-- Monica Johnson
‘She was our own personal diary, and it helped me get through some very tough times.’
Madelyn Cimaglia, who taught at Hoelscher Elementary (San Antonio, Texas) in and around 1990.
“(It was) the way she truly cared about all of her students. At the time, my father was going through some very difficult health issues and Ms. Cimaglia had us writing in our daily journal, which a lot of teachers do, but she would actually respond to us via the journals. She was our own personal diary, and it helped me get through some very tough times. I kept up with her all throughout the rest of my school years, and made visits to my old elementary school, but we lost touch around high school. My best friend and I ran into her a few years ago (we’re now in our late 30s) and we debated whether she would remember us, so we hesitantly walked up to her and said, ‘We’re not sure if you remember us, but” -- and she cut us off and said both of our full names without even thinking twice! She followed with, ‘Of course I remember you both.’ A couple weeks later, she sent us pictures of short stories we had written in the fifth grade! She still had them, to this day.”
-- Hilda Escobar
‘The way he would read to us.’
Mr. Harold Warntz, who taught at Jefferson Elementary.
“The way he would read to us. We were transported into the stories as he read.”
-- Lynda Cicchini
‘We all heard that raven say ‘Nevermore.’'
John Gorrie, a junior high school teacher in 1968.
“The day she captivated an entire class of eighth-graders as she recited Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Raven’ by heart, while slowly walking up and down the rows of student desks. I swear, we all heard that raven say ‘Nevermore.’”
-- L.D. Stevens
‘What an exciting delight my work is, even now, at 79 years old.’
James L. Lysitt, who taught at a technical high school around 1957 and into the early 1960s.
“Mr. Lysitt was THE most excellent teacher! He taught both radio/TV and advanced electronics classes. His determination was that we thoroughly understand the Principles of Electronics, so that we could go any direction in electronics. And I was privileged to get to go in many very interesting directions! Even now, 61 years later, I am still enjoying my Automation Machine Controls work for excellent customers! I love to make machines ‘sing and dance!’ What an exciting delight my work is, even now, at 79 years old! Thanks to Mr. Lysitt and other teachers such as Mr. Sandlin, our physics teacher who made everything so interesting, our English teachers who helped us learn to champion the English language (and more).”
-- Carson S. Meyers
‘‘It ... helped us become more confident students.’
Ronald Mansur, who taught at River Oaks Elementary in the 1990s through the early 2000s.
“He had the biggest heart, and treated all of us like is own children. He had pow-wow talks (like a therapy session to get off heavy things on our hearts or minds) that helped us emotionally and build our self-esteem. It helped us be humble with each other and have respect. It also helped us become more confident students even when subjects/curriculum were difficult.”
-- DeMario Pate
‘I don’t think I would be the person I am today if it wasn’t for him.’
Commander Reedy Buford, who taught at Tomball High School.
“He always listened to me, he motivated and inspired me to do and be my best, he showed me I was someone worth something -- who was capable of doing anything, despite my hardships, and he believed in me during the years when it felt like no one else did. I don’t think I would be the person I am today if it wasn’t for him, and I don’t think he ever realized how truly appreciated he was for it all.”
-- Rachel D.
‘He made the last bit of high school bearable (for) a girl like me.’
Josh Dowdy, who taught at Hidden Valley High School around 2006.
“‘Little Dowdy’ was what he was always referred as, since his father was also a teacher at HVHS. He was always understanding, compassionate, kind, and just an all-around easygoing guy who just seemed to GET his students. He must have been mid-20s at the time, so close enough to our age to still be cool, and ‘get us’ in a way older teachers I don’t think would. He always encouraged me to write the poetry I did at the time, and was always there to talk if I needed him. He made the last bit of high school bearable (for) a girl like me, who felt like I was always on the outside looking in. I’ve run into him over the years and it’s always a joy to see him.”
-- Kaitlin Johnson
‘She made learning my favorite thing in the whole world.’
Terry Langley-Weber, who taught at Forbes Elementary in 1997-98.
“She was way ahead of her time. Ms. Langley-Weber is a gay woman, and it was my first time interacting with someone like her. She melted all the horrible things I learned from family members about queer people. She was soft-spoken and stern when she had to be. She made learning my favorite thing in the whole world. I wish she could’ve stayed so I could learn more from her.”
-- Amy Gonzalez
‘It was due to her encouragement and help that I wrote my first ‘published’ poem.’
Lois Moyer, who taught at Plymouth Canton Community Education Starkweather, in 1990 and beyond.
“She encouraged me (and told me) that I mattered, that I was creative, and that my ideas mattered. She taught me the basics of writing papers and writing for the college level. She prepared me well for my college experience. She was absolutely amazing -- patient, and the kindest woman ever! I should note that at the time I went here, I had lost my home, and was living with my boyfriend and some friends. I was really scared, overwhelmed and unsure of my life. My mom had lost our apartment after my grandpa died, and so my life changed and got really scary all at once, but Lois encouraged journaling and poetry to get my feelings out. It was due to her encouragement and help that I wrote my first ‘published’ poem. Thank you, Lois Moyer!”
-- Tara Bernth
‘Because of his work with me, I was able to overcome my speech impediment.’
Mr. Dorman, who taught at Foxcroft Elementary School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania around 1985-86.
“He was my speech teacher. He helped me overcome a lisp that made me very shy, quiet and reserved. Because of his work with me, I was able to overcome my speech impediment and now I absolutely love public speaking, and run a bookstore in Katy, where I do readings for the kids.”
-- Sara Planz
‘He believed in us so much, that we had no choice but to believe in ourselves.’
Darrick Seymore, who taught at Mandarin Middle School in 2008.
“He genuinely cared about making us better people. He took time out of math class to teach us about inner beauty and loving yourself. He believed in us so much, that we had no choice but to believe in ourselves.”
‘After 22 years, he remembered exactly who I was.’
Mr. Carroll, who taught at Rochester Adams High School from 1994 to 1997.
Mr. Carroll was the best math teacher. He had a passion for the subject and was absolutely hysterical. I looked forward to his class every day. He always called me by my last name and told me I would be a teacher one day. I insisted I was going into business. I did get my business degree, hated my job, and went back to school for teaching. I now teach middle school math and English. I contacted him a few years back to tell him how much I appreciated him and (said) that he was right. After 22 years, he remembered exactly who I was, where I sat, and who I hung out with. Mr. Carroll, I appreciate your impact on my life.”
-- Kathy DeLuca (Angelo)
Are you feeling all the feels, wishing you had submitted your own favorite teacher and anecdote? It’s not too late! Do it here. We just might use your answer in a future online story.