It's National Teacher Appreciation Week. Time to give a shout out to teachers everywhere, and to recognize their dedication and hard work.
There is no question: teachers have an immense impact on our lives. They shape how and what we learn, from kindness and sharing to the classics, calculus, and physics, and more.
NorthcentralPa.com staff reminisces about our favorite teachers. Who was your favorite teacher, and why?
Carrie Pauling, nomadic childhood, graduate of Owen J. Roberts in Pottstown, Pa.: "When the teacher assignment letter came in the mail the summer before fifth grade, I broke into a sweat. Mr. Tomlinson, a.k.a. Mr. T. He was slightly smaller than Andre the Giant with a thick beard, and intimidating presence. Gulp. No one ever wanted Mr. T. The jitters set in.
"It's 1985, day one of fifth grade at the International School of Brussels, Belgium, and in walks Mr. T. Beardless! He'd shaved over the summer. He was friendly and welcoming. The first thing he taught us was his life motto: Variety is the spice of life.
"Mr. T lived that motto. Class was interesting and fun nearly every day. He brought energy and curiosity and taught me the most important lessons: don't judge people, keep your mind and attitude open. And my motto to this day is 'variety is the spice of life.' Wherever you are, thanks, Mr. T."
Jeff Everett, Blossburg Area School District: "My favorite teacher was my mom, Mrs. Deb Everett, who had the joy of teaching me in Home Economics three different years. I'm not sure where her patience came from, but I know it was one of my favorite classes my friends and I took."
Phoebe Frear, Williamsport Christian School/PA Cyber School: There are two teachers that have fundamentally shaped me into who I am today.
When I was in kindergarten I had the most loving and caring teacher. I was a very timid child and was scared of the classroom experience, and it came out in strange ways. Her confidence in my ability to learn and interact, even in the moments where it appeared that I was behind the rest of the class, impacted me more than I have ever truly expressed. Thank you Ms. Klink, a.k.a. Mrs. Eisley.
"In high school I had a powerhouse of a teacher who taught Algebra, Creative Writing, Technical Writing, and SAT Prep. I was in cyber school (graduated in 2012), so she had to get creative when it came to interacting with the students. She encouraged our creativity and empowered us to tackle the world. Her tagline for when things got tough was 'I can totally do this,' and I still use that phrase to this day and think of her. Thank you Ms. Andrew, a.k.a. Mrs. Lutch."
Jerry Frear, Loyalsock Township School District: "My favorite teacher was Dick Wertz.
"Mr. Wertz stoked my love of news, politics and current events. He made me defend my thoughts and think critically about what was going on around me. He never made a student feel dumb or stupid. His genuine care and concern for all his students will always be remembered.
"Mr. Wertz was the best of the best. I'm thankful he was part of my life."
Melissa Farenish, Montoursville Area School District: "My favorite teacher growing up was Mrs. Christine Kindon, my 10th grade English teacher at Montoursville Area High School.
"We did a lot of creative writing in her class and a lot of fun projects. I remember we were asked to interview a veteran and we put together a booklet with their stories. I got to interview my Uncle Horace, a WWII vet and prisoner of war who was in a German prison for 18 months.
"During the war stories unit, Mrs. Kindon also asked us to pick a song about war and bring the record in to play for the class. I remember kids bringing in Metallica, among others and we listened to them in class. No other teacher did that.
"Mrs. Kindon always encouraged me to keep writing and I'm grateful for her encouragement."
Chris Benson, Loyalsock Township School District: "I think a lot of Loyalsock students will understand the phrase 'Bower Power.' Kirk Bower is one of those unique educators you just never not want to know. So unique he even let me teach a social studies class once. In school he definitely helped encourage me to pursue the things which interested me in life.
"Before high school there was Mr. Larry Nevel in elementary school, a man I have admired my entire life. The rumors my sister told me were, in fact, true. He does indeed dance on desks saying '6 times 8 is 48.' I will never forget that mathematical equation so long as I live."
Morgan Snook, Keystone Central School District: "I had many great teachers at Central Mountain High School, including Mrs. Joanne Heimer (French) and Mrs. Leslie Smith (English).
"Madame Heimer was strict yet kind. Her lessons were immersive, like turning the classroom into a mock airplane cabin or asking us to cook from recipes written in French.
"Mrs. Smith loved literature, especially Atticus Finch's character in To Kill a Mockingbird. One day she wrote a Mark Twain quote on the board that always stuck with me: 'The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.'"
Aaron James, Williamsport Area School District: Mrs. Bower made an immediate impact on me and my life from the day I stepped foot into her classroom at Roosevelt Middle School in sixth grade. She was everything you wanted in a teacher and looking back as an adult you grow to appreciate the lessons she was teaching even more.
She taught accountability, responsibility, and made sure to find a way to make a connection with every student she encountered to engage them and help them understand and grasp her class. Her impact exceeds a year in her classroom, as she maintains contact and interest in students lives far beyond educational years. Thank you for all you did, Mrs. Bower!
Brett Crossley, Williamsport Area School District: Teachers can teach complex mathematical problems or simply how to color inside the lines.
It all matters.
I had a lot of great teachers over the years, but I was fortunate enough to live with one, too.
My mom was a first-grade teacher in the Williamsport Area School District. She loved her job and taught with a passion few have.
I remember watching her work on lesson plans until she took us up to bed. She worked hard, but never forgot about us.
The teaching and the learning never stopped with my mom. She wore both hats as me and my identical twin brother grew up in front of her.
My mother taught me how to read and write. She helped and encouraged me as I developed a voice later in life as I navigated my way through high school and college.
I’m still learning as a writer. I’m still learning as a reader. Every little piece that’s added is a part of the foundation my mother gave as a small child. She is the best teacher I will ever have.
Mark Mussina, Montoursville Area School District: "My favorite teachers were Jim Bergen and Carter Giles, not because of what they did in class, but because they were coaches of mine as well.
"Seeing and working with these men both inside and outside of the classroom not only forged a better relationship, but also reinforced the idea of having multiple life-interests and the desire to excel in more than one area."
Kayla Henderson, Saint Ann and Saint John Neumann Catholic Schools, Penn College: "It's laughable to think that I could pick just one, but I'll try to make a relatively short list. There's Mrs. Dean, my elementary school science teacher who sparked my unending interest in biological and geological sciences; and at Neumann, Mrs. Overdorf and Mrs. Gerritzen, my esteemed music and theater instructors. Mrs. Overdorf's death during my senior year was so devastating that I've refused to sing since her funeral. It's probably not what she would've wanted, but it just feels wrong to sing without her.
"I have to mention Mr. Skinner at Penn College, one of my horticulture instructors. Though he made fun of my purple pocket knife, he patiently taught me how to use it for tree grafts even after all of the other students had taken off for the day. His signature commands of 'Make it happen, cap'n' and 'water the pot, not the plant' have permanently lodged themselves into my brain.
"Okay, one more, one more. I have to single out Carl Bower, another hort instructor at Penn College, for putting up with my shenanigans, which involved accidentally releasing a pair of European hornets in the middle of Landscape Design class. He's a saint for not kicking me out right then and there."
Want to give back to teachers during National Teacher Appreciation week? National Day Calendar offers a few ideas:
- Refill their supplies. Many teachers stock their classrooms with the supplies they need to effectively teach.
- Write a letter showing your support. Your words may encourage a teacher to continue making a difference in a child’s life.
- Ask them what they need the most. Sometimes just being asked is the most important part.
- Volunteer in your schools. Every day, schools rely on parent support for many programs to succeed.
Thanks, teachers, for all you do!