Almost without exception, everyone who has ever stepped foot inside a school classroom — and that’s pretty much all of us — can name at least one teacher who became a positive force in their lives.
It could have been an instructor who inspired them to pursue a seemingly impossible career, or maybe helped them discover hidden talents they didn’t know they possessed. Someone who impressed them enough to tweak their thought process and introduce them to new way of acting or thinking, or who went above and beyond in encouraging and informing their interest in a particular topic or path.
A good example of this would certainly not be the relationship between Ralphie and Miss Shields in the 1983 holiday movie classic, A Christmas Story. In that cult film, Ralphie’s goal wasn’t to absorb knowledge or gain insight into a career.
Nope. Ralphie’s sole intent in giving his teacher a fruit basket was to receive an “A” on his paper espousing the wonderfulness of the coveted Red Ryder BB rifle. Instead, he receives a “C+” stamped across the top of the paper, along with the admonition that “you’ll shoot your eye out.”
And while that teacher-student experience most certainly affected the rest of his life, inspirational is not a good term to describe it.
However, most of us do recall a teacher who made a difference, so we’ve asked a few of our own instructors and staff here at Eagle Rock to think back to a time when an educator had an impact on their lives.
Here’s are some of the responses we received:
Meghan Tokunaga-Scanlon, Music Instructor
At Greeley Central High School in Greeley, Colorado, my senior year choir director, Jeremy Francisco was brand new to the school and helped inspire and cultivate my decision to become a music educator. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life until Francisco gave me a lot of responsibilities within the choir and pushed me to try new styles of music. I’ll always be grateful for the experiences he gave me.
Dan Hoffman, Literature & Literacy Instructor
At the Lab School in Chicago, Illinois, Chris Randle, my academic tutor, read poetry with me in between bouts of chess and Tai Chi meditations. Sometimes we would just talk about philosophy or politics. Years later he admitted to me that he secretly undercharged my mother for our sessions because we weren’t always doing homework. But, those sessions had a greater positive impact on me than any class I can remember. As a teacher, I often ask myself if I am making the kind of difference for my students that Chris made for me.
Jen Frickey, Director of Curriculum
At Henry Street High School in Whitby, Ontario, Canada, Alison Wallace — my phys-ed teacher — put the students in charge. She challenged us to create activities and events that our peers would want to participate in, and really have fun at. She was the first teacher who stepped back and really put us in charge. We had an amazing time and designed events the school had never done before. And she really trusted us to make it happen on all levels. I learned what I was capable of doing through her, and it was amazingly fun!
Cindy Elkins, Visual Art Instructor
Her name was Mrs. Rose and her daughter, Catherine, was a classmate of mine. Catherine died of cancer before graduation. Mrs. Rose was one of my junior high and high school teachers at Robious Jr. High, Midlothian High School in Midlothian, Virginia.
She followed her ailing daughter through school in order to be in the same building with her. Catherine’s illness built community at the school. She taught me to appreciate myself and to honor the creative spirit. Mrs. Rose taught me to draw, paint, read, imagine and succeed. I honor her and am honored to remember her saying, “If you pose me like this (strike a pose) or if you strike me like this (rapid slick move into a new pose) know things change and you have to adjust.” Those words prove themselves true daily. And she made us draw her that fast!
Anna Magle-Haberek, Human Performance Instructor
At Heritage High School in Littleton, Colorado, my high school Euro History teacher, Mr. Roberts, is the character that Mr. Mackey is based off of in the show “South Park” (Mmmmmmmkay???) He was an amazing teacher who pushed us and genuinely cared about how we did. His passion was contagious and he really made his students care about the subject and want to learn more.