In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, Character.org staff took time to reflect on the some of their favorite teachers.
Becky: Mrs. Frazier, my fifth grade teacher, really stands out in my memory of favorites. I recall coming in from recess after lunch every day. Everyone was hot and fired up from activity until she started to read to us. Every day another chapter. We got quiet and attentive. It seemed strange to be read to as most of us were already good readers and would have said we were too old for it, but she enticed us all with great books. Not only did she read wonderful works, she introduced me to books I would have never picked up on my own. It wasn’t just the literary arts. I recall our debates on the civil war, the perspective taking, the research, the passion we brought to the activity. And math lessons that really developed understanding. Just thinking about my fifth grade year makes me smile.
Iris: As a very quiet student in the recently integrated school zone of Rock Creek Park, I was often ignored by other students and even some teachers. However, my middle school Algebra 1 teacher was different. She noticed me, learned my name and treated me with respect. In that environment, I thrived. My grades were excellent, and I felt gratified. Though sometime over the many years since middle school, I have forgotten her name, I still remember exactly what she looked like and how appreciative I felt being in her classroom.
Dave: A teacher that particularly stands out was my first grade teacher, Mrs. Maniscalco. She lived in my neighborhood in the Houston suburbs. It was a different world then, and I used to walk to the store with my little red wagon every day during the summer following my first grade. Probably twice a week, I would modify my walk to pass by Mrs Maniscalco’s street. I’d ring her doorbell and wait patiently until she answered. Most days, she invited me inside to see how my summer was going – and read with me. Before long, I started to bring my own books in the wagon. She always read with me. Years later, I reflect on how intrusive my visits must have been. I’m married to an educator, and I know how precious summer break is. But Mrs. Maniscalco never made me feel unwelcome. She always seemed genuinely happy to see me. I’ve never forgotten her, or the times we read together that summer.
Amanda: I had Mr. Henry for US History in 11th grade and again for AP Psychology in 12th grade. His class was fun, but more importantly, he knew how to relate the material to the teenagers sitting in front of him. He made us want to learn, get involved and better understand the world around us. In AP Psych, rather than strictly teaching from the text, Mr. Henry demonstrated real experiments to get us engaged. After I graduated, I wrote to thank him for preparing me for college courses because of how he taught. I am still grateful for his energy and inspiration
Heather: Norma Gensler was my English Honors and AP Lit teacher for three of four high school years. She appeared strict, she was rigorous and she intimidated freshmen. She knew just how much to expect from each student, and she didn’t accept anything less. Mrs. Gensler taught us great works of literature, she taught us how to write and she taught us to challenge what we’re told, even from her. When faced with unfair change to curriculum, she encouraged us to fight it, and we won. I majored in English Lit because of her, but more importantly, I now know I can and should instigate positive change.
Sora: I have had many wonderful teachers, but one that stands out was Tami LoSasso, our theatre director. Because my friends and I did theatre throughout high school, we were able to get to know her better over the years, and I think that understanding someone truly knew us made a big difference in how I thought about school. I never really felt comfortable in the vast noise of the cafeteria, but she invited us to eat in her room—an offer that made a huge difference in my day. Even though she was always supportive, she also wasn’t afraid to tell us when we were out of line. She helped me have confidence in myself as an actor but also as a leader in our Thespian Society chapter. Mrs. LoSasso made a difference in my life, and I appreciate all she continues to do for the students at Lakewood.
Tucker: My favorite teacher was my middle school band teacher, Mr. Singmaster. He got me so excited about music because he brought music alive. Rather than it being an arduous task like scales, he made it personal, as music is intended to be. I appreciate the effort he made to connect to his students and give us a reason to pursue music and the arts in general. He is still my friend to this day.
Sheril: The teacher who changed my world was a teacher who never taught me. She was my high school counselor who said you can do anything. You can go to college. You can be successful. Let me show you how. Hours, we poured over college applications, ACT study guides, scholarship applications and more. She remembered my birthday, knew my world, and invited me into hers. To what I feared was her dismay, I became the ultimate, a school counselor. She wasn’t dismayed at all. She was honored, and I am honored that I have been blessed to be that teacher for others.
Rebecca: Since I was lucky enough to attend a National School of Character, I had a lot of fantastic teachers. Ms. Verrone, however, stands out for many reasons, but most of all, because if it weren’t for her, I probably wouldn’t be working for Character.org today. Ms. Verrone taught 9th grade Civilization and 10th grade Ethics, and her enthusiasm for the subjects was infectious. Even more important to me than the classes she taught, was her role as the school’s Ethics Coordinator because as a freshman, I worked closely with her and a small group of students to rewrite our school’s core values. Ms. Verrone always assigned me challenging and meaningful projects both inside and outside of the classroom. She supported me and helped guide me to do the work I love.
We want to hear your stories too. Share a story about a favorite teacher of yours in the comments below.