All of us have had teachers that have touched our lives. For some of us, it’s been a few simple words of encouragement that conveyed a sense of empowerment; for others, it’s learning and discovery that blossomed into a lifelong passion or career. Each of us at STEMscopes has had these experiences and we wanted to share a few of them with you to show our appreciation this Teacher Appreciation Week.
David’s Teacher Memory
When I was in the ninth grade, my teacher Ms. Lehtham opened my eyes to the world of science. She was a master storyteller, intricately describing phenomena, and yet allowing time for the most nuanced questions. Her stories elicited wonder, awe—and more questions. As a biology teacher, she had high standards that she ensured were upheld throughout her delicately prepared hands-on investigations. It was only when I became a teacher that I understood just how much effort, late-night hours, and trial-and-error experimentation she must have devoted to making our experiences flow smoothly. Back then I thought a teacher was infallible—and she essentially was! She expended a Herculean effort to make everything we learned meaningful and extraordinary, even if it was the end of a hot afternoon after lunch, when most classes would be lackadaisical and unengaged; instead, she made sure that was never the case. Thanks to her I now eagerly still read science news, question how things can work in science-fiction movies, and have an unyielding desire to problem-solve when things come up at home, at work, and with those in need—all due to the sense of inquiry and wonder she inculcated in me.
Clare’s Teacher Memory
Mrs. Thompson was my English teacher in eighth grade, and then again when I was a high school senior. I appreciated her as a middle schooler, and even more as a senior in high school. You see, Mrs. Thompson was the only teacher who arranged her desks in a circle. And Mrs. Thompson was the only teacher who sat in a student desk within the circle during the entire class period. She began every class period with a reading. Sometimes it was an inspirational poem from a famous poet, other times it may have been a piece she wrote herself. But she always began class with inspiring words or even a question that would make us think. She not only introduced us to great authors and taught us the art of writing, but she taught us how to share our work. Peer editing wasn’t some boring or mundane task in English class: it was something we all looked forward to. Like excited kids, a bunch of 18-year-olds would excitedly turn toward one another to share what we had written. We learned to speak aloud, show compassion, even talk about difficult topics. Her classroom was a safe place, as well as a creative space. Mrs. Thompson is the reason I became an English teacher. And my desks were always arranged in a circle.
Lindsey’s Teacher Memory
Mrs. English wasn't the most popular teacher among us third graders. She wasn't warm and fuzzy, she didn't give away daily treats, and she didn't go easy on us, but that's why she was my favorite. With a strict demeanor, a life-sized cardboard cutout of Elvis in the corner, and beaded streamers lining her doorway, she wasn't afraid to be herself—and in that, she challenged us to do the same. She had high expectations of her students and pushed us to reach our potential. Though it wasn't always easy, being her student taught me that the most rewarding accomplishments are those we work hard to achieve. That's a lesson I've brought with me well past the days of multiplication tables and shoebox dioramas.
As adults and professional educators, we recognize that a teacher’s work extends well beyond the anecdotes we’ve shared here. But they meant the world to us as students. We hope you’ll take a moment this week to think about the teachers that have influenced you in so many diverse ways, as well!