In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, we’re asking our supporters to share stories about their favorite teachers. Check out some of the inspiring stories we’ve heard thus far!
Jaime L. from Philadelphia, PA
Ms. McKenna, my French teacher, taught me about nontraditional assignments and mindblowing dedication. Under her direction, we played French Jeopardy!; I’m still pleased that I knew what distinguishes a “French salad” from other salads (lettuce). We celebrated Christmas with traditional French carols and foods (I made the Buche de Noel, for extra credit). We made annual videos based on “dialogues” that we had to compose in French; my dialogues, created in conjunction with friends, included a French cooking show during freshman year and an Oprah-esque talk show during junior year (complete with commercials). Ms. McKenna was also the faculty advisor for our school newspaper, for which I eventually served as editor-in-chief. She routinely spent HOURS with the newspaper staff, above and beyond her regular duties, including long weekend days getting the next issue ready for press. She arranged for us to attend local journalism conferences, submitted our work for awards, and pushed us to become the best high school journalists we could be.
Mr. Minieri, my American History teacher, was legendary throughout our school for his outrageous lectures and cool assignments. During our first week of class, he had us go to our local libraries and photocopy the front paper of a newspaper published on the day we were born (an exercise that caused a bit of an explosion from my dad, who was horrified that I didn’t recognize the person who graced the Philadelphia Inquirer’s front page from my birth day, Phillies pitcher Steve Carlton). Later that year, Mr. Minieri had us create newspapers of our own, highlighting any events from American history that caught our fancy. He took us to Washington, D.C. to explore our history in person, he assigned us book reviews on American history topics to prompt us to read nonfiction thoroughly and thoughtfully, and he shared the story of his own experiences as a soldier in Vietnam, giving us a personal perspective on a crucial period of American history.
Sharon S. from Germantown, MD
My favorite teacher was Amanda Hagen. She was my 3rd grade teacher in Florida in the 1960’s. She taught our class literature. One of the things we did was memorize a part from an Alice in Wonderland poem. Then we went around the classroom, each person saying their part of the poem. I still remember my part! She taught us about art. We learned to tell if a painting was by Picasso, Rembrandt, etc. The class was so wonderful that the school decided to do an experiment: they let her teach us again in 4th grade.
To this day, I can’t remember if something happened when I was in 3rd grade or 4th grade. I believe Mrs. Hagen ended up teaching in China for a while, and then taught gifted children. She was a constant inspiration. Her enthusiasm for the work was as important as the way she treated all of her students with compassion and respect. Thank you Mrs. Hagen!