At the Chalkboard Project, this is one of our favorite times of the year: National Teacher Appreciation Week! Of course, we believe the hard work and dedication of our educators deserves recognition all year long, but it’s been great to have a chance to pause in our busy schedules and really take the time to show our gratitude.
If you’re a teacher, let those who inspired you to this career know about the impact they had on you. If you’re a parent, remember to thank the teachers who are partners with you in your children’s learning. And if you’re a student, well, just be extra nice!
In that same spirit, we’d like to share a big THANK YOU to the memorable teachers who made a difference in our lives. And to all the teachers doing the most important work in Oregon, thank you!
What teacher did you most appreciate? Share your memories with us in the comments.
Sue Hildick: I have many favorite teachers but three that stand out. My 1st grade teacher was Ms. Cameron, and she was beautiful and thoughtful and I loved her. She made me feel independent and accomplished, and I remember just loving to be in her presence. My favorite teacher in high school was Bob Skrondal who taught me journalism and advised me on editing our school newspaper. He treated kids as peers with valid opinions and insights; he fed our curiosity and creativity and wasn’t afraid to let us try lots of things, even if it meant we learned a few lessons the hard way! Finally, my constitutional law teacher at Georgetown, Dr. Walter Giles, inspired me to love learning about our founding principles, our government and our role in the world. He was formal and old-school and a little intimidating, but he inspired great respect and you really wanted to learn what he had to teach. They were each memorable people who loved their craft.
Dan Jamison: My 1st grade teacher Mrs. Watkins taught me how to read…and so much more. When I was young, I walked extremely pigeon-toed, so much that I had to wear heavy corrective shoes with built-in braces. I looked and felt different than the other kids. Mrs. Watkins did not feel sorry for me, or make excuses. In fact, I think she was more demanding and made it clear that she had great expectations for me. In addition to teaching me how to read and guaranteeing a solid start in public school, I am convinced Mrs. Watkins taught me how to walk straight. In fact, the last time I saw her, I was in the sixth grade and preparing to move with my family to Alaska. The last thing she said to me was, “Danny Jamison, you keep on walking straight”. I think, with time, I understood that she meant so much more than the angle of my feet and toes. I am convinced Mrs. Watkins still walks with me today. Nothing can compare with the impact of an amazing teacher.
Aimee Craig: One of my favorite teachers was Mark Oglesby. I never had Mr. O as a teacher, but he inspired me to join student government and helped me believe that I could make an impact on my school environment. Mr. O took the time as the activities coordinator to meet with students individually during their first year at the high school. It was a short, maybe 5 minute meeting, but I left that meeting feeling like I belonged and that someone cared about me and believed that I could do good things. Mr. O moved across the country before my senior year, but I ended up becoming student body president. Mr. O still encouraged me from afar and sent me a book on leadership when I graduated. His simple act of caring about students as individuals is something we can all learn from. I was very excited to find out that Mr. O received one of three 2011 American Civic Education Teacher awards.
Kylie Grunow: I had many wonderful teachers who made a difference in my life: Mrs. Gerlach, Mrs. Musser, Mrs. Kalina, Ms. McDonald, Mrs. Kinney-and that’s only to name a few of them. But, whenever I think about the teacher that made the biggest difference in my life and the lives of so many others, I think of my grandfather. He was a teacher, a coach, and a principal for generations of kids throughout Oregon. Tom Hawkins had sports teams and gyms named after him, and his dedication was such that he continued to substitute teach up through his seventies in a one-room school house in Agness, Oregon. Growing up, I thought that the pure joy he took in teaching us new things, be it good Scrabble words or how to bait a fishing line or about the constellations, was due to the fact that we were his grandkids and therefore “special.” At his memorial service, the packed house and the outpouring of support in the local paper to honor his passing showed that his dedication and joy of teaching had spread far beyond those related to him. From kids that were still in school to adults older than my parents, person after person commented on the difference that Tom Hawkins made in their lives. Some of us have a true calling and my grandfather certainly found his. Thank you to all of those teachers out there today who have found theirs.
Abby Block: Mrs. Hecker, my 3rd grade teacher, would always ask her students to show, and not tell. I can remember her saying, “Write about a pear. Now, how can your reader truly know about that pear without knowing how it looks, smells, feels, and, of course, tastes?” When our class was really well behaved, or finished an exercise early, we would beg Mrs. Hecker to give us five minutes of “writing meditation.” During this exercise, we were asked to close our eyes and imagine an object that we would like to write about. Mrs. Hecker would walk around the room and guide us through a series of questions that would allow us to thoroughly describe our object. After, we would take a few minutes to jot down our thoughts. We absolutely loved it! Looking back, I find it both refreshing and inspiring that Mrs. Hecker was able to cultivate a 3rd grade classroom culture in which descriptive writing exercises could be rewards for good classroom behavior.
Bev Pratt: During teacher appreciation week I want to thank Mrs. Neiman, my 6th grade teacher, for sharing her love of reading. I can still remember sitting down after lunch and her reading to the class exciting books that then encouraged me to read books of my own. Mrs. Neiman always made her classroom available for students to pursue learning in varying contexts including lunch time Chess games. Overall, I just remember her love of learning and providing opportunities for each of her students to explore and learn. Mrs. Neiman definitely left a lasting positive impression on my life for which I will always be grateful.
Sally Jansen: I would like to thank Mr. Roger Ashby, my high school Art Teacher and Yearbook Advisor, for his kindness and patience. He was just a great listener and encouraged each of our unique interests and talents. He made us each feel special. Mr. Ashby was a terrific mentor of young adults helping them to see the potential in themselves.
Liz Hummer: My 4th grade teacher Mrs. Shempp was the first teacher who really let me be ME. In addition to her reassurance that being smart was cool and her encouragement that I would be a find success in any career I chose, she allowed us to take on nicknames. Not silly ones like “Sparky,” mind you, but the proper shorter versions of our given names. Those who, like me, were saddled with a lovely but tongue-tying multi-syllable name jumped at the chance to be Ben or Kim. I decided to be Liz-the fun and sassiest of the many nicknames for Elizabeth, in my opinion. I thought I would go back to my full name when I was a “grown up,” but it turns out that Liz is who I am. A fun and sassy girl who above all wants to use her smarts to be a success-just as Mrs. Shempp said that I could. I’m so grateful for her ability to see each of her students as unique individuals and encourage us to embrace that.