Institutional Inspiration: The Teachers Whose Lessons Went Way Beyond the Classroom
The best teachers don’t just inspire us to read more or conduct better research for papers. I know I have had a few teachers in my lifetime who sparked something in me to go for more in my life.
Most people could name at least one past educator who helped to mold their beliefs and behaviors in ways that encouraged them into adulthood. These teachers support their students to help them discover their talents and skills, guiding them to capitalize on their strengths.
So, what makes a great teacher? Is it diplomas and certificates? A background with spiritual discovery? An eclectic batch of varied knowledge?
In honor of the back-to-school season, the blog team at Compulse put the question to our coworkers to see what their teachers taught them beyond the classroom.
Antonio Colon talked about his 8th grade English teacher who helped him because he believed in him when he needed it most. Teacher Michael Among let students use his classroom as a hang out during lunch to get to know them better, and encouraged them to see Lord of the Rings to better appreciate great literature in all forms. One thing he said really stuck with Antonio: “‘No matter how low you feel about yourself, you are good enough’ – and he said it like it was a fact.”
Dayna Cohen mentioned a past art teacher, Mrs. Webster, remembering the lesson she taught about life. “She taught me that learning to draw was not just about drawing, but about learning how to see and trust your eye when putting lines down.” This is a great life lesson that Dayna has used even outside of the realms of art and design. It has given her confidence and strong observational skills to use when facing a variety of tasks.
When Alaina Marcotta was struggling in school her photography teacher, Mrs. Silva-Fujanic, was hard on her after a bad semester. She wanted Alaina to see what she was capable of. This is when Alaina realized that she had the great potential to do even greater things in college and beyond. She came across a quote inspired by her teacher that reminds her to be thankful for the “extra swift kick” she got when she needed it most. “My teacher thought I was smarter than I was – so I was.”
Doug Hamilton reflected upon his 10th grade German teacher, Mr (Herr) Berndt, who had an accident that left his vocal cords badly damaged and required Doug to listen that much more intently. Doug remembers that Herr Berndt’s focus on exactness had his students aiming to perfect their work. Doug has maintained this same attention to detail throughout his college years and in the working world beyond.
Personally I had a tough time deciding which of four former English teachers to mention. My 9th grade teacher Michael Flemming taught me that I was my own road block. Brenda Alexander in 10th grade pushed me to the edge of my comfort zone by entering me in a public speaking contest. Simon Drew in my later high school years taught me to accept my differences and supported them wholeheartedly. And I will never forget the depth of LeRoy Panic’s lectures in my college years. Between these four amazing educators, I learned that I can use my unique perspective to overcome anything no matter what doubts I have. Also, I remind myself often that Professor Panic would be disappointed in any of his students if he ever discovered they settled with the knowledge they had, rather than striving to learn everything they could.
So what makes all of these instructors so unforgettable? The support that they gave us in our studies? Or was it the belief that they had in us?
Tim Goodell’s story of a favorite professor in film school, Howard Libov, reflects the answer hidden in all of our responses. Tim told us that Professor Libov’s famous quote “if you can do nothing else, tell the story,” helped Tim unlock his passion for filmmaking.
And that’s the answer. The most special teachers can unlock a student’s passion. For school and future careers, for their lives in general, and for their outlook on their own lives. All of these educators unlocked a passion within their students, and even if they don’t know how, they inspired our lives forever.
Remember to appreciate the amazing work that teachers do as we embark on a new school year, and consider how you can be a source of inspiration for the kids in your world too.
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