- Mrs. Borkel – She was the nicest (and most stylish) Kindergarten teacher in our elementary school. I couldn’t wait to go to class each morning. Mrs. Borkel ensured that each of her students felt loved and nurtured. Her classroom was a home away from home for me. I remember being so jealous when I learned that Mrs. Borkel was moving up to first grade and that my younger sister would have her for two years in a row! I’m the boy with the blue shirt and the big ears in the top row.
- Mrs. Langson – I get a tear in my eye when I think of my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Langson. She reminds me of my mom, who passed away last summer. I’ll never forget how she called us up to her desk one at a time so that we could choose one friend to be in our class the next year. When I chose my troublemaker best friend, she gently suggested another student and I happily agreed. Mrs. Langson introduced me to the wonderful books of E. B. White. She read The Trumpet of the Swan aloud to our class after lunch. I credit Mrs.
Langson for sparking my interest in reading quality children’s literature. It’s been on fire ever since!
- Mrs. Weiner – Was the best teacher I ever had! She made learning FUN. We did more projects in her class than in all my previous years in my elementary school. Mrs. Weiner introduced us to “cutting-edge” education technologies like the video camera to film presentations and the student-created filmstrip. She was truly ahead of her time and I still use lessons she taught in my classes every year. Our fifth grade class read these awesome books by a new author (at that time) who you may have heard of, Judy Blume. After reading Tales of a Fourth Grade
Nothing in class, I voraciously read all of the other Judy Blume books I could find. Mrs. Weiner was also really into creative writing and I saved my 5th grade writing folder which I had filled with humorous realistic fiction pieces and wild sci-fi stories. I wanted to be a writer after spending a year in her class and I’ve been sharing my favorite pieces with my 4th, 5th and 6th grade classes for the last 25 years!
- Mrs. Jorisch – Was an amazing and dynamic 10th grade English teacher who instilled an appreciation of contemporary and classic plays in me. We read “MacBeth”, “Our Town” “Death of a Salesman” and “The Crucible” that year. I couldn’t wait for that class to start. Always a shy student, I eagerly volunteered to read the lines of the interesting and multi-dimensional characters in those awesome plays. I will never forget how sad and angry we were (and selfish) when we learned that she would be leaving midyear to have her first child. I feel guilty when I recall how we took our frustration out on her substitute. I apologize.
- Mr. Schumacher – Was a cool and gifted 10th and 11th grade mathematics teacher. I easily mastered the concepts of algebra and trigonometry thanks to his direct, no-nonsense approach. We shared a love of skiing and I’ll never forget how he met my family and me at a ski resort he had recommended. “Mr. Shoe”, as we affectionately called him, made math my favorite subject that year and is proof that a personal connection between teacher and student is just as, if not more, important than a test score.
I feel fortunate and blessed to have had these teachers in my life. I’m sure there are others who I have forgotten to mention, but these are my top five. They all truly made a difference teaching the core elements of what I believe a true education is: a life-long love of learning, an appreciation of literature, and a desire to follow our passions. I realize that I attended school during a different, more progressive, era (1970s – the early 1980s); years before No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top Initiatives and our governments’ obsession with high-stakes testing. However, I feel it is very important for us all to remember that good teaching is more than a test score and that good teachers – who connect with their charges – truly make an impact on student achievement.