Academy Award winning actress Helen Mirren was interviewed on the television show, “Live with Kelly and Michael.” When asked where your passion for acting started, she said,
“I had a great teacher. I think for so many of us in whatever walk of life you are, but have a dream and follow it through, very often you go back and there’s a great teacher at the beginning of that. And I had this wonderful English teacher called Alice Welding, Mrs. Welding. And she introduced me to literature and to drama in literature and storytelling and then she guided me toward this thing called the National Youth Theater. So it all started with Mrs. Welding without a doubt.”
I think the lessons for teachers are clear here, enrich students lives with language and literature any curricula that excites them, and then expose them and guide them to resources that will hone their talents and broaden their worlds.
I have wanted to be a teacher since fourth grade when I had a progressive and gifted teacher, Mrs. Klein. In the beginning of the school year she pointed out a shelf of readers from fourth through sixth grade, and said, “The school says we have to read all of these books. Let’s read them as fast as we can, so that we can get to the really good books.” She then uncovered a library of books to our class, all with beautiful bindings in red and blue and green, with gold lettering. She had everything there from the Bobsey Twins series and the The Little House in the Big Woods series, to The Last of the Mohicans. So we embarked on doing just what she suggested. We read the readers in groups and alone, and then we read passages to her so that she was certain that we had mastered them. Then we began reading the “good stuff” as she put it. She gave us journals to capture our questions, and reactions, which she read and commented upon, always encouraging us to read more. She loved these books, and I loved reading and writing about them. I have always wanted to pass on that love for books to others–something so nurtured in her classroom. And because every book was an opportunity to share what I learned in my journals, that is a gift I treasure.
Almost everyone has a story about a teacher who inspired them, served as a role model, or just gave support when they needed it. Some of us had teachers, who offered special help or support in the early grades. Some influential teachers come later in middle school, high school, college, or even graduate school. These positive relationships with teachers, no matter when they happen, often shape the ways in which we see ourselves and the paths we take in our lives and our careers.
In these hectic times when everyone has so much to do, it is easy to go about our day, filling it with the tasks we must do, forgetting about those things that we could do. If we are mindful of those acts that support and nurture children and young people, we might take the time to make them a priority in our parenting and teaching and our interactions with others.
Good stories inform us. Good stories can shift the way we think. Good stories can touch us on deep levels where our values and beliefs are formed. Stories have the power to transform us.
So on this page, I would love for you to share your favorite teacher stories, honoring those relationships that meant something special to you. Tell us the stories of what a special teacher did to touch or shape your path in life. And since parents are our first teachers and are powerful influences in our lives, share stories of lessons from parents that helped set your course as well. Perhaps we can find the lessons in these stories given to us by our best teachers and use them as teaching resources for ourselves and others.
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