Passionate high school English and History teacher inspires young minds

This high school teacher with eight years of teaching experience explains the temptation to quit her difficult job dealing with teenagers, and what keeps her from pulling the plug on this challenging but rewarding career.

What is your job title? How many years of experience do you have in that field?
My job title is English/History teacher at a public high school and I have eight years of teaching experience.

Would you describe what you do on a typical day?
On a typical teaching day, I arrive at the school approximately one hour prior to the first bell – at 7:30 in the morning. I prepare the white board, organize my lessons for the day, do some copying if necessary, and open the doors in case a student needs to make-up tests or other work. I interact with my colleagues and answer any emails I may have.

If you’ve experienced discrimination, in what ways have you responded and what response worked best?
At first, the lack of English language skills was a little problem for me, but it was overcome quickly. I never let these shortcomings get in the way of learning to speak a new language and I used a sense of humor, kindness, and asking for help in my daily life.

Because I am a more mature individual, that is, I am middle-aged female – some of the young teachers have often called me “Mom” affectionately. I look at it as being a compliment rather than being slighted by it. I believe two things: that everyone can learn, and that a person is never too old to learn. I know that my job actually is a benefit to those younger teachers who may not have the life experiences, or the initial maturity to deal with teenagers in a public school. I am of European birth, having immigrated with my family to the U.S.

Where you work, how well does your company do ‘equal opportunity’? Is management white and male? How are minorities perceived and treated?
The school where I work at the present time is located in an area of Arizona where there are many Hispanic students. That being the case, the administration is fairly aware of the need for diversity. The hiring that is done is equitable as far as opportunity for anyone who has the qualifications necessary to be able to teach at a specific grade level. The administration itself is diversified with one Hispanic female and two white males. While there are more white middle-aged teachers both male and female, there are Hispanic and Black teachers to round out the teacher population. The instructors are able to treat each other with respect and work well together.

What don’t they teach in school that would’ve been helpful to you?
One of the things that I did not learn in college that would have been really helpful when I began teaching is planning ahead at least a couple of weeks. Seeing the big picture makes it a lot easier to plan the daily work. Most colleges and universities are so focused on the single lesson plan that they forget to tell you that more than one lesson must fit into a unit of learning. I have since learned to adjust and plan a month ahead. A second thing I have learned is that teenagers in particular, respond to kindness and emotion much more than teens used to. As the old saying goes, you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Even male students are more emotional and wear their feelings on their sleeves more often than not.

How did you get started in this line of work? If you could go back and do it differently, what would you change?
I began in the business of education when I was faced with having to have a job that required benefits and a full year’s salary. I did a review of my education and life skills and realized that with a little push and a few more courses to obtain my teaching credential, I could have that full time job with benefits. After doing some more homework, I discovered that teachers are paid better if they have a Master’s degree. I found a good university where I could complete my course work online. Meanwhile, I was able to supplement my income with a part-time job in sales. The entire process of receiving my degree happened in about a year and a half. I would not have done anything differently. It was a lot of work but felt good when I was done.

On a good day, when things are going well, can you give an example of something that really makes you feel good?

Most of my days as a teacher are good days! What makes me feel really great is seeing the looks on the student faces when the “brain light” goes on and they truly “get” a point that I am trying to get them to see. Or when something makes everyone laugh until it hurts. When the balance of seriousness and fun is reached…that’s when I am feeling at the top of my game. On the other hand, there are days when nothing goes well. Kids come into the classroom with attitudes that disrupt the mood of the others. It’s sort of like an infection that spreads really fast. Kids have bad days too, and those days are the toughest to deal with.

How stressful is your job? Are you able to maintain a comfortable or healthy work-life balance?
Learning how to cope with the stress of dealing with 25 to 35 teenagers on a daily basis means that you have to establish a management style that is right for you from the first day of classes. If you don’t grab a hold of it right from the start, you will have a difficult time. I have written a number of letters of resignation during my time as a teacher – each time I have torn them up when a student makes the sun shine! All it takes is one! I also maintain a healthy work-life balance by leaving school behind when I go home. Kids can become all consuming and you have to be their teacher and not their best friend. They have plenty of “best friends.”

On a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate your job satisfaction? What would it take to increase that rating?

On a scale of 1 to 10 I would rate my job satisfaction as an 8 because the pay level for a teacher in the state in which I live is very low and it would be good if there were an increase in the base pay of a teacher. Also, teachers seem to be required to be counselors, mentors, and even stand-ins for parents due to the fact that there are so many dysfunctional families and single parent families where the mother or father is too busy trying to make ends meet, that there is not enough time in the day to pay close attention to the needs of the kids. The burden falls on the teacher to pick up the slack.

What’s a rough salary range for the position you hold? Are you paid enough considering your responsibilities?
The salary range in this state for a beginning teacher is roughly $29,000 for someone with no experience. It goes up to approximately $50,000 for someone with multiple degrees and experience. Most schools here are not year round schools, so there is generally a two and a half months time when you are not working daily.

What’s the most rewarding moment you’ve experienced in this position? Of all the things you’ve done at work, what are you most proud of?

The most rewarding moment of my working life so far is to have had all my students pass the state exams without exception. To see that kind of improvement from the first part of the year when some students come in with major writing and comprehension problems, to being able to pass with flying colors, is truly remarkable.

What’s the most challenging moment you’ve experienced? What would you prefer to forget?

Of course, I would prefer to forget the times that you have to call parents of unruly students, or have to flunk a senior who cannot graduate because of his/her bad grades is sad. All in all, the kids still know that you cared enough to be honest and be the best role model you can be.

What would you tell a friend considering your line of work?

We can all remember the names of special teachers we had in our own school experiences. In fact, many older people can still remember the name of a favorite teacher 50 years later! That speaks volumes. In order to succeed in this field of teaching, you have to have the desire for passing on knowledge in a field that you have passion for, the consistency of sticking with getting a degree and teaching credential in that subject that interests you, and pursuing excellence. I would urge anyone who wants a good job that you can grow with, and likes kids as well, to go into the teaching profession. What other job can you have where you have a 2 months break, lots of holidays and time off, where your professional development is paid for, and you are remembered for the rest of your life?

If you could write your own ticket, what would you like to be doing in five years?
If I could write my own ticket five years down the road, I would most likely want to go into administration or become a curriculum specialist. There are so many opportunities for further growth in the education profession that you can literally pick and chose where you want to be. The jobs in teaching and education can move your heart and can move the heart of a youngster as well. After all, learning is for a lifetime.



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  • I really connected with this article because if it weren’t for the teachers I have had I wouldn’t be where I am today. I had some inspiring teachers that became my mentors and encouraged me to continue in my pursuit of higher education. I have experience working as a tutor for high school students and it can be difficult to teach when a student feels like they are never going to understand a problem. However, when they do understand the process and can do it on their own, it is such a rewarding experience. Education has always been an important part of my life and I hope to one day serve as an educator in a public school in a community where the curriculum can be improved and programs can be implemented because everyone deserve the right to a great education regardless of their economic situation.

  • Thank you so, so very much for sharing this beautiful story! Perhaps where I see my own teaching and mentoring experiences connecting most to this teacher’s work with youth is my time teaching at a junior high school in Taiwan, where I discovered how my teaching is inextricably linked to the way I interact with social justice issues. At my school, I took the initiative to mentor two at-risk seventh-grade students, Kenneth and Roy.  Kenneth and Roy come from very difficult home lives and, as a result, struggle with many behavioral issues that include a general lack of motivation, acting out, and bullying, among others.  One ongoing issue they have is an inability and unwillingness to work on group activities with other students.  Instead of separating them from the rest of the class and further ostracizing them, I invited them to form a new group with me, where I have been facilitating their learning as their group leader.  One activity we did together asked students to work with their groups to brainstorm as many words as they can related to a new topic we will be learning.  As Kenneth and Roy’s group leader, I helped them with the spelling of the words, but I asked them to brainstorm and write the words themselves.  Although they were reluctant at first, they eventually grew excited about being in the same group as me, began to come up with new words by themselves, and were willing to become active participants in the activity.  This approach has allowed me to better assess Kenneth and Roy’s learning and understanding of the class material through individualized attention and instruction and, perhaps more importantly, build a stronger relationship with them as they are motivated to take ownership of their learning.

    This was an incredibly transformative period in my life where I learned about and actively dealt with the socioeconomic issues surrounding inner city life, especially underprivileged students’ educational outcomes.  I believe that teaching literacy and critical reading matters because I recognize the value of writing as a way to express one’s creativity, struggles, and views of the world. I want Kenneth and Roy to understand the importance of trying spelling on their own because writing is a special skill that may open up many opportunities for them to be heard and succeed. My role as a mentor is to take Kenneth and Roy’s lives seriously, even when they do not or, rather, could not.  It means dedicating myself to helping to build their character with them way beyond what they thought was necessary.  It means motivating them to care by showing my own interest and engagement with their process.  It means taking the time and working with them personally and giving them the guidance, instruction, and support—morally, personally, intellectually—they do not receive at home. For us, home is our newly cemented bonds and parallel joys.  Family discovered like peeling away bark and of course sometimes underneath is tender pulp.

  • Reading this interview was very heartwarming because I identified with many of the points. I taught 12th grade American History in Newark, NJ and saw many of my students struggle in school because of issues at home. No matter how stressful it was teaching there, the students kept me grounded and reminded me that this is the work I was meant to do. There are always moments when you want to quit but there are always students that steal your heart. It’s so important for teachers to band together and share stories because it can be an isolating and extremely overwhelming profession. The transparency of this interview was relevant and energizing.

  • This is such an amazing and lovely post. I can’t describe how happy I was to read the statement “…I used a sense of humor, kindness, and asking for help in my daily life.” This statement really touched me simply because I fully believe that all people could accomplish amazing changes in the world if only we spent a few minutes applying kindness to our behaviors and our actions. I personally know the benefit of having someone treat me with kindness. There are times when even just a tiny amount of love, compassion, and kindness can change the outcome for a single person. You just never know what someone may being going through. I’m so proud that this teacher sees the value in kindness.

  • Teachers like this one are amazing. This article was written in June 2011 and 6 almost 7 years later she is still teaching people that she has never met before.

    When I read the question about the salary range and if she feels that she is paid enough I was expecting an answer about how teachers need to be paid more. Her response pointed out the pay range that people in her area can expect but she never mentioned about how they need more money or even the supplies that are needed in the classroom. Instead her answer was very direct and pointed out the work schedule with summer vacation. She left it up to the reader to determine if the responsibility she fulfills is compensated in her pay.

    She realizes her role with her students is to be a mentor and teacher not their best friend. She even went on to say that she hated failing a student in their senior year keeping them from graduating but she also understands the need for teaching responsibility and consequences of previous decisions made.

    I can relate to this situation as a nurse I have patients who need something done for them but they don’t want the pain associated with it such as starting an IV. Like the teacher we have to tell them the consequences of the choice they are making and help them understand that for their better health in the future an IV is necessary now.

  • This article was wonderful with such insightful questions and answers in the interview. I would love to teach one day in another country, and the fact that this teacher is teaching in her non-native language gives me hope that I can one day teach in my non-native language as well.

    The honesty and realism of the answers gives a clear picture of what to expect and how one can prepare themselves as a teacher. Great article thank you for sharing!

  • Within a few paragraphs, I immediately related to your experiences. I worked in an 8th grade English classroom at a title 1 school as a teacher’s assistant. I had such a passion for helping students reach their “ah-hah” moment, but unfortunately, I didn’t feel like the rest of the staff had that passion. Either that or they had lost that passion through being overworked and underpaid. Most of the students had never been told college was even an option for them, and part of my job was to discuss with them otherwise. However, I constantly butted heads with my own co-teacher and the principal. The moment any students messed up, they were quick to punish and hopefully get them sent to the alternative school. It was hard being in this field as most students had poor role models and didn’t know better. They just needed encouragement and patience, which this school was not eager to provide. I think being a teacher is one of the hardest fields. You have to not only get across your daily lesson plan, but also deal with the emotions and habits they bring into class from home.

  • The first words I can recall are words that are regrettably embedded in my mind: “Gay people go to Hell.” Because my father – though a bright and diligent Presbyterian minister – disapproved of my sexuality, I unfortunately knew from as early as I can remember that I could not safely approach my parents with my struggles.
    I always felt that I had to fend for myself. The relationship strain I had with my parents, along with the struggles that came with adolescent puberty, situated me into a position where I was at constant war with the world and with myself. I yearned for a time where I could finally reach a state of peace.
    Upon entering the 10th grade, I was assigned into an English class with a teacher by the name of Ms. Goldstein. I did not know then that she would be the individual to help me ease into that state of peace I so desired. She, both an English teacher and dean at my high school, helped me pave my path of acceptance and self-worth by allowing me and my classmates to spend the first five minutes of every class to write in our journals. I was encouraged to express myself through paper and pen as my mediums, which sparked in me a love for writing as it warranted a cathartic effect. Ms. Goldstein would collect our journals from time to time and respond with motivational words of wisdom. It was through this activity that I realized she saw something in me that I did not see in myself: that I was a unique individual deserving of love and attention. She was, in other words, sort of a surrogate parent that I could, unlike with my own parents, count on.
    I mentioned previously that one of the greatest obstacles I had to overcome was not being able to depend on my parents with my struggles. During my stay at a high school in NYC for Student Teaching, I found that many of my students faced great challenges of their own: there were students who were in the middle of their parents’ divorcing, students who had broken relationships with individuals around them, students who were only able to eat meals once a day, students who were suffering from depression, and students who were constantly being bullied. A common ground I discovered was that these students would not express their struggles to their parents. I do not know whether this meant that my students were weak – in that they were unable to trust their parents with their battles – or if this meant that my students were undeniably strong, in that they were being mindful of their own parents’ feelings by choosing to face their fights alone. What I do know is that each of my students experienced a plethora of pain coming into my classroom. Knowing this, I adopted Ms. Goldstein’s use of journaling into my very own 10th grade classroom. At the end of every week, I would collect these journals and respond to each entry, in order to foster interpersonal relationships with my students. I endeavored to reply with comments that would show how deeply I cared for my students. I endeavored to show them that they were unique individuals deserving of love… that they were deserving of attention. My goal became not to just be their teacher, but to be their mentor, their confidante.
    A facet of the Teaching of English program at Teacher’s College that I hope to explore is aiding prospective teachers in being keen and responsive readers of their students as learners and of the obstacles that might obstruct learning in classrooms. It is a given that students come into the classroom to learn. However, during this time of instruction, each student brings into the classroom his or her own emotional baggage. Like I have with myself, I believe that many students at the adolescent level are also at constant war, whether it is with themselves, those around them, or with their environments. I believe that Teacher’s College will create a platform that will allow me to empathize with my students, as empathy has always been a trait I appreciated in all of my teachers.
    I anticipate that the instructional practices at Teacher’s College will allow me to assist students into pursuing future college academia and constructing achievable, lifelong goals. As a future educator, I believe that not only do I need to evaluate my students’ work, but that I also need to foster their own personalities and skillsets, as well. I desire to become the kind of teacher that shows encouragement through my actions. I admit that I am, at this point, a novice teacher. However, I ultimately believe that with proper instruction from the highly-dedicated professors at Teacher’s College, I will become the type of teacher who students will come to admire.
    If at some point in my life even one student looks back into his or her life and contemplate even for a second that “Wow, Mr. Park really motivated me to become the best version of myself that I could be,” I’ll know that ultimately, everything that has transpired in my life – the good and the bad – was indeed worth it.

  • This article gave me a new perspective of the educational pursuit. It was a reminder that I will continue to learn and grow beyond the classroom and that I, too, will never be “too old” to become knowledgeable about new things. This article genuinely made me smile because my mother just recently went back to school to pursue an education degree. She often talks about how weird and embarrassing it is to be back in a classroom with students half her age. I think this article would serve as a nice reminder that she isn’t the only one in this kind of position and that she should remain proud of her decision to further her academic career. The author of this article, like my mother, inspires me to expand my knowledge throughout my life and never stop learning.

  • Growing up, my parents have repeatedly told me about the importance and significance of education. Not necessarily in the “degree-help-you-get-better-jobs” kind of way, which of course was always brought up. But they really emphasized on how being ignorant in this world is one of the worst thing one can be.

    Naturally, school and learning was and is my entire life. I lived and breathed school, reading, writing, and being a huge academic nerd. Unlike my countless peers, I understood the value of it. My parents have sacrificed immensely purely for me to have an opportunity to go to school, educate myself and rise above being more than another Mexican statistic.

    History and English being my top two favorite subjects, this post of a high school teacher made me reminisce about my own history and English teachers, and how they have inspired me to keep going.

    My history teacher, in fact, is the reason I am pursuing a degree in History, and perhaps a future career as a secondary education history teacher, or work in social justice. Just like the teacher above, she was stern all while being incredibly caring. She had this sort of “tough love” method.

    I am always told that teachers do not make the best salary, but I always respond the same way, I don’t care about the money. If I could educate the future generations to be functioning citizens of the world, and feel like they matter in a classroom and that their future is not just another statistic, the money does not matter to me.

  • I really enjoyed reading this article. I often forget that there is two sides of education, there is the student and the teacher. To read about the teachers process is exciting because it expands your horizon and open your eyes more. Being a college student I focus solely on my priorities and I say this article can open your eyes more is because it reminds us that teachers are there to help you. It infuriates me that teachers do not have a higher pay. If it was not for my teachers I would not be where I am at today. They are our mentors who deserve more.

  • Education is always my passion. I have taught a senior secondary school back in Ethiopia. It was my first career. Teaching is a fulfilling job for me. I pursue a higher degree to continue a career in teaching

  • Something that resonated most with me from your story was when you said, “We can all remember the names of special teachers we had in our own school experiences. In fact, many older people can still remember the name of a favorite teacher 50 years later! That speaks volumes.” Since I decided teaching was the career I wanted to pursue, I have always kept this sort of goal in mind. I want to be that difference maker. We all have those few teachers that were there for us as we were growing up and being able to do the same is a lifelong goal for me.

    It takes a special kind of person to want to be there for their students. To have the emotional intelligence to know that every student is important. To have empathy, and not sympathy for their students. As I inch closer to finishing my Credential program I will continue to work towards building my teacher tool box to be that teacher everyone remembers 50 years from now.

  • Passionate teachers in high school, I believe, are crucial to the success of students. I loved reading about the experience from the teacher’s point of view. As a student, I always enjoyed sitting in a class with a teacher who was passionate about teaching. I actually became excited to learn. Thanks to a handful of amazing teachers, I was inspired and influenced in what I’m currently studying.

  • I feel like this article really relates to me and my life. Many many times have teachers just failed me and I felt as though they didn’t care. It’s amazing that there are people out there who actually care about their students enough to try their best every day. Just as students do, I also believe that teachers need to be motivated every day.

  • This article makes me grateful to know that we have teachers like this who genuinely care for their students. As a student myself, I have had countless of teachers who define “teaching” as reading straight from the textbook and assuming that students will understand simply from reading the textbook. These teachers were the ones where I struggled the most with because it always felt that they looked down on me when I didn’t understand a concept or when I asked questions. It’s like they expect students to completely understand everything immediately. This makes many of the students feel unimportant which then leads to them skipping class or just not paying attention. I’ve had many occurrences where I felt that going to class would be useless because it felt like we never did anything important. It means a lot to me to see this teacher consider a typical good day when she sees the students’ “brain lights” go on, meaning that they’re actually learning something. To see a teacher put so much effort to ensure that students understand what they’re being taught is what I aspire to be as a Human Resource major. I want to make sure that my words have value to others and that would mean having the patience, the passion, and the dedication just like her.

  • This article brings back some great memories as a teacher. This reassures me that my job choice is the best one. The value that anyone can learn and that teenagers are the most emotional group of students in secondary education.

    Within this article, A masters degree served as a great foundation to her teaching career, and I am looking to apprehend my own Master’s Degree in education that actually specializes in Sports Management. I have a true passion for athletics and education and I have developed a way to achieve both through pursuing higher education.

  • I am truly encouraged by this post. I recently discovered a way to gauge my passions and career goals in my studies. I declared a major in secondary education: social sciences with a minor in psychology. I have always loved history and have a really good knack at it. I also love helping and instructing others; making sure they have a better understanding of a topic than before they came in. However, I always ignored the educational field because every teacher I talked to discouraged it. “We don’t get paid enough!” Some go on to add “… to deal with these horrible kids.” I could go on and on about the many horror stories from teachers, but I made a decision for myself that if I was going to be pursue something, I was not going to let anything or anyone stop me.
    When choosing a career, monetary things were not on my mind. I thought more about “How can I impact the people around me, which will in turn impact the areas around me, and eventually impact the world?” I began looking at becoming an educational and career counselor to help students find their calling and how to go about getting there, whether it be going to school to get a degree or finding a career that will set them up for how they want to work.
    After some thinking and an insightful talk with my mom, I noticed that many of the academic counselors at my college were also professors. They were certified to help me figure out my life and also teach. When my mom brought this to my attention, it was like a light turned on in my brain, bingo! I found my avenue. I have felt nothing but excitement since I have made that decision. Yes, I know there will be challenges, but because it is in my heart to do this, I know there will be nothing but success and open doors for me! Thank you for sharing your story. It reminds me of the underprivileged area I am from and this really encouraged me that I am making the right decision for myself and for the students I will impact.

  • This article opened my eyes to the many different struggles we face working in educational institutions, but also illustrated the rewarding side of it all.

  • I got my minor in educational studies because education is a field I have always been interested in! However, I do not know if it is what I would like to do now, but I wanted to the option to maybe be able to teach someday in the future.

    One thing I found really helpful was her advice to plan lessons a couple weeks in advice. She is a very right that we are not taught that. At least, I was never taught that in my education classes. It is always about the lesson plan for that day or the next day.

    Teachers should be inspiring kids in whatever subject it is. They should be making children passionate about learning. Her point about how everyone can remember the names of a teacher that was special to them. I think every single person has had that kind of teacher at one point or another. That is really what the goal should be for each and every teacher. To inspire kids and be that one teacher that is never forgotten.

    Although, I have decided to pursue the field of art therapy. I also have my work cut out for me with working on inspiring people. Especially since I would like to work with adolescents. So many kids says they cannot draw or that they are not creative and that is simply not true. Being able to work with them and figure out what they passionate about is really the key to get them to making some meaningful artwork. Like with teaching, it is a process. Over time my clients will not only improve their art skills, but learn to improve their coping mechanisms and regulate their emotions. It takes time, but after awhile one can see all the growth they have made. The same thing happens with teachers. It takes time, but by the end of the course students have grown and bettered themselves.

  • I relate to this woman’s struggles with teaching a group of students who are not like her.

    When I was at my undergraduate institution, I became a Resident Assistant and was in charge of an entire floor of students. My identity as a member of the LGBTQ+ community was off-putting for many of the residents of my floor and so I had to work year-round with those students to help them view diversity in a completely different light than they already did. Like the woman in the interview, I feel like my sense of humor and my patience went a long way to helping those students because otherwise, I do not think that my goals with these students would have been achieved.

    Her goals and her achievements resonate with me too. I’m a graduate student working on my Masters of Education in Student Affairs Administration and the connections that I make with students are some of my greatest personal accomplishments. I remember the moment that I realized that this was definitely the career track for me: I had to submit a report about a student expressing suicidal thoughts and after all was said and done, that student reached out to me and thanked me for helping them.

    I really appreciate these kinds of teachers/educators because I feel like they really care about all of their students. That’s the kind of Student Affairs Professional I aspire to be.

  • More often than not, we forget how much dedication and effort goes into being a teacher, from the inside of the classroom to the outside. Within the four walls of a classroom are numerous and unique personal stories that are untold, but carry volumes of life lessons. One of these precious stories that need to be told is that of a teacher’s, which is what the article above is about. This particular story took me back to a time when my beloved and late history high school history teacher taught much more than just history. He altered my perception of high school from a place where I called meaningless to a place that will forever echo his wise words of why learning is not only restricted inside school walls. His charismatic, enthusiastic and charming demeanor would light up a room, and allow students to enjoy learning from someone who genuinely cared about children. However, within a couple of months of being in his class, we heard devastating news of his death. That he had committed suicide. We learned that he was depressed. As a sophomore in high school, along with my classmates, we were perplexed. How could such a happy, loving and always smiling man be so hurt inside. How could he show up with great enthusiasm and show unconditional care to his students, yet be depressed in the walls of his own home? It altered the way I perceived the world from then on. I had always heard and known to be nice to everyone, as each person had their own problems, however he was the first person that I had known well that fell victim to fatal personal problems. My teacher came more than prepared to class everyday with a bright smile on his face, ready to tackle the day answering questions, however he felt he was not ready to face his own personal battles.

    The above article reminds me of my teacher’s story. It is important and vital to acknowledge all the teachers and mentors of the world who show up smiling and give school lessons, and most importantly life lessons. We must constantly remind ourselves that teaching requires dedication, persistence and hard work, inside and outside of school walls. It is important that we treat them with utmost respect and honor, and send out their stories for the world to appreciate.

  • This teacher’s inner reward of being able to see her students grow so much in a given year resonates with my experience with a teacher I had in the past who, through her teaching, made me grow into the person I am today.

    When I was in middle school, I was placed in a program called, “Learning Disabilities.” I was labelled as one who was socially and academically behind. As I journeyed through those years, I started fulfilling the labels that were attached to me: slow, dumb, poor English… stupid. I remember a classmate, referring to me as a “little dummy.” I was crushed and hated my very existence. Despite the best interest that was meant for my educational success, I was torn down to the point where I shied away from everything, especially when it comes to expressing my intellect. I was set up to fail, but fate works in mysterious ways. For once in my studies, I met a teacher who actually cared about me and saw the potential that all else failed to see. This teacher was my 8th grade Learning Disabilities teacher. She challenged me intellectually, treated me like I was an actual 8th grader, and most importantly, fueled a fire that was dying. It was because of her that I was able to redefine my potential.

    By the near end of my 8th grade year, my LD teacher and I had a talk about my progress. She suggested that it was time for me to exit the program. With new hope, I existed the program. I moved on, and I continued to meet people who believe in me. Eventually, I believed in myself, too. Now, ten years later, who would have imagined that that kid would one day be a graduate student at Hamline University, pursuing a teaching degree in elementary education K-6, aspiring to become a teacher. I am in a part of my life that I have never imagined to be possible. This was made possible because I met a teacher who cared about me and saw through the negative attachments that were placed on me that did not fully reflect my potential.

    Teachers are truly remarkable. They can spark the curiosity in learning, creating life-long learners. They can nurture students’ potential, creating successful stories. Most importantly, however, teachers have the power to make some lives worth living again. My LD teacher, through her practice, made me realize how important teachers are. One day, when I become a teacher, I hope that I will be able to change the lives of others like the way my LD teacher did for me.

  • Teachers are some of the most important people in our lives and what they pass on to us, their students, can define us for the rest of our lives. Good teachers are the ones who teach us how to live when we leave whatever level of education we are at, be it high school or college. I’ve been lucky enough to have some pretty amazing teachers in my high school career, they’ve pushed me to be the best person I can be and to do what makes me happy Honestly they do so much more than what they are paid to do and deserve so much more than what they get. My theatre director is one of those amazing people, she treats her students like her own children and makes sure we are all doing well in our other classes and acts as a counselor when we have problems at home or at school. She inspires me to do things I believed were impossible and to strive for excellence. She is so passionate about her job, she is what a teacher should be. She is someone who pushes her students and helps them when they stumble. And like the author of this article says we remember those select few teachers who made a difference in our lives and I am certain my director is someone I will be thanking for the rest of my life.

  • I can relate to both the passion that this teacher feels throughout this article, and the philosophy that no matter how old or young a person may be, one is never too old to learn. I too feel that learning is a lifetime journey. The uniqueness of the boundless opportunity to engage in learning has certainly enhanced my love of being life’s student. I am constantly looking for new ways to stimulate my mind and learn something new, and a career dedicated to perpetual learning of how to instill the same rare and thrilling spark that was once inspired in me; to engage, teach and inspire children to indulge into a lifetime of curiosity about knowledge, is a career that I am ecstatic about choosing to dedicate my life to.
    It is certainly true that I remember my favorite teachers, and I recall those that had the greatest impact on my life. Those teachers have changed my life and helped to form the person that I am today. As a student, it has indisputably been those teachers that have challenged my mind and encouraged my ideas that made me realize what my potential could mean in the world. It is so exciting for me to know that the career I am choosing, teaching elementary students and students with disabilities, will enable me to light that spark in others.

    It is so refreshing to hear about a teacher with such love for her students, and a passion that is evidently genuine. I am both excited and honored to begin my own journey into teaching, as I know it will lead me down a path of fulfillment and joy.

  • I can specially relate to this article in many ways, there is a lack
    of English language skills where I am from and a lack of education as well. As
    a Hispanic student I admire this teacher very much, firstly because where I am
    from, there where never any good English teachers. So most of the students at
    my high school couldn’t even say a word in English. There should definitely be
    more teachers like her in life. I aspire to be as she is; to teach and help
    educate students so they can accomplish their goals and dreams in life.

  • This really makes me happy to read because I can count a number of teachers I was friends with in high school. My favorite teachers were always the ones who I could joke around with because it always made me want to listen to what they were trying to teach us out of respect even if I was not completely interested.

    This is how I learned best. It’s always easier to listen to a friend, and when your teacher is happy, the feeling becomes mutual. This reminds me of my experiences with teachers. I talked to them when they had bad days, I understood when they were not feeling up to it because some students weren’t always behaving and it felt really good to have these moments with my teachers. Those are the ones that stick with you for years. It makes me glad that the teachers actually look forward to these kinds of relationships with students.

  • I’ve been discriminated due to my lack of English when I first came to the U.S. I had to learned English during my freshman year in high school. Some students were laughing at me when I spoke cause my accent was horrible. To overcome it, I started to read more books and watch more cartoon on TV. I also tried to interacted more with people who spoke English fluently. Therefore I was able to not only speak English well but help others who had experienced the same nightmare of discrimination I got.

  • This article relates to me in a few ways. One way is the life lesson of planning ahead. In high school this was not really emphasized, but I soon learned that it is a skill that I would need. By failing to plan I would miss out on scholarship deadlines, have to rush to finish homework at the last minute and forget things if I am going somewhere.
    I also agree with her idea on manipulating the curriculum of schools. I believe that high school students should be well rounded but also have classes based on the future career plans. It was my AP biology teacher the induced a spark in my love of learning. I know it sounds cliché but it’s true. Anything dealing with medicine, chemicals, and anatomy excites me. I think this will help me to become a great pharmacist.

  • With my mother being an Army Veteran she had been deployed to Iraq, and if it wasn’t for my teachers providing me with mentorship I can’t even imagine where my life might have gone if I didn’t have their support and encouragement to be successful in whatever I put my mind too.

  • I relate to this article really well, for I see examples of peaceful diversity in both my own life and, more specifically, my high school. Everybody at Irmo High School, the one I attend, comes from different walks of life: socioeconomic, ethnic, etc. I have a teacher who is from Germany, there are teachers from all over America, teachers who are African-American, Caucasian, Asian-American, and Hispanic, and all of them are treated well by co-workers and students. Not once have I heard any resentment towards any ethnicity at my high school, and it serves very strongly as evidence that generations to come are going to be more open-minded and loving of each other.

    I also relate to this teacher in that I very strongly believe in, and practice, the pursuit of following what you know will make you happy, and working in the area in which you want to pass knowledge onto others. Pursuing a fashion design major, and facing high odds against my success, I hold on to my strong will and determination because I hold it very closely that you should pursue what ultimately makes you happy and fulfills your life.

  • As a future teacher I find hope for my future through this article, and I can relate to some of the challenges faced. As a student I did see see many Black/African american teacher, and even fewer teachers who immigrated to this country. I wish to influence my future students especially those of color who are immigrants that they can have a good future. We need more influential teachers who care about all of their students. Teachers who can relate to their circumstances. I had a teacher in High school who encouraged me to read and because she saw the passion in me and helped to build it I was able to be successful through high school and be the person I am today.

  • In middle school, I had an English teacher who everyone gave a hard time, mostly because she gave us a hard time. Many students were used to grades being handed to them, as well as teachers holding their hands every step of the way. Most teachers graded their students based on effort or whether or not they turned in the assignments. This teacher, however, graded based on how good she thought the writing was.

    A handful of students switched out of her class and I had begged my parents to let me switch out of her class as well. To my dismay, my parents made me stay in her class. I had never gotten anything below a B in my life. I was mortified, and I loved English! I became more and more frustrated with my grade in her class as the school year progressed. I was one of those kids, and still am, who found it important to have an extremely high GPA.

    As the school year progressed I became closer with this teacher, not because she finally loosened up and stopped butchering my grade, but because she was the only teacher in the whole school who didn’t sugarcoat the truth. She not only helped me with my writing, but life in general; arguments with my peers, life at home, what programs to apply for at the local tech high school. This teacher helped me find myself and see the world for what it really is.

    To this day I am still in contact with this teacher and attend a university close to where she lives. She continues to open my eyes to the real world and has been there every step of the way from my high school graduation to me becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant. I aspire to become a Physician and similar to this story, I too want to give up sometimes, but then I remind myself that its my dream and that everything I’m doing right now, obtaining an education, applying for scholarships to continue my education, are all steps leading to my dream and I know in the end it will all be worth it.

    One day I hope to inspire someone, even if it’s just one person, the same way that my seventh grade English teacher inspires me and the same way you inspire your students. Its teachers like you, the ones that do more than show up to class and teach, that help to push students towards their goals and show them that they can do anything they set their minds to.

  • This story reminds me not only of the teachers who have
    influenced me, but of all the people who have mentored me and helped me become
    the person I am today. Furthermore, I am reminded of the people who I have
    influenced and took under my wing as mentees through my leadership positions,
    passing on the inspiration to young people developing into leaders of tomorrow.

    During my undergrad, I served as the chair of seven
    multicultural clubs overseeing the activity of the student organizations
    encompassing sixty student leaders. At times, working with groups or
    individuals proved frustrating when people failed to meet deadlines or were
    uncooperative. During these moments, I often felt discouraged and loss sight of
    the purpose for taking up my leadership position. But then individual students
    would come up to me and thank me for taking charge as the head and managing
    order in the midst of the chaos. This reminded me that although plans were not
    always implemented in the proper sequence, I was still providing motivation for
    the rest of the group to move forward and pursue their club activities and

    Even after stepping down from my position, I received deep
    respect from my peers who continued to thank me for what I had done and
    continuously sought me for advice or consultation. I realized that although I
    wasn’t a licensed teacher, to these sixty people, I taught them something
    valuable and would leave a lasting impression on their lives to succeed.

  • This story reminds me not only of the teachers who have
    influenced me, but of all the people who have mentored me and helped me become
    the person I am today. Furthermore, I am reminded of the people who I have
    influenced and took under my wing as mentees through my leadership positions,
    passing on the inspiration to young people developing into leaders of tomorrow.

    During my undergrad, I served as the chair of seven
    multicultural clubs overseeing the activity of the student organizations
    encompassing sixty student leaders. At times, working with groups or
    individuals proved frustrating when people failed to meet deadlines or were
    uncooperative. During these moments, I often felt discouraged and loss sight of
    the purpose for taking up my leadership position. But then individual students
    would come up to me and thank me for taking charge as the head and managing
    order in the midst of the chaos. This reminded me that although plans were not
    always implemented in the proper sequence, I was still providing motivation for
    the rest of the group to move forward and pursue their club activities and

    Even after stepping down from my position, I received deep
    respect from my peers who continued to thank me for what I had done and continuously
    sought me for advice or consultation. I realized that although I wasn’t a
    licensed teacher, to these sixty people, I taught them something valuable and
    would leave a lasting impression on their lives to succeed.

  • I really enjoyed this articled because it reminded me of my high school english teacher, Ms. Goldie. As a senior, she was my AP English Literature and Composition teacher. To the best of my knowledge, she did not face any discrimination in the workplace, but I consider her to be role model to her students and to her colleagues.

    Ms. Goldie always came into class with a smile on her face, and she was truly passionate about English, and she constantly pushed us to our academic limits in order to become the best possible writers and students we could be. Of course, there were days when she or a few of the students would be having a “bad day,” but these negative attitudes never lasted long; after all, we’re all human.

    Ms. Goldie is an inspiration to me because she chose to become a teacher out of her passion and love for literature, rather than the monetary benefits that come along with this profession . She once told us that she considered another career that would’ve given her a higher salary, but she said that she would rather have a job that she loves, rather picking a job to simply “make more money.”

    As a future nurse, I know I will receive an adequate salary, but Ms. Goldie taught me to pick a profession that I love. I shouldn’t pick a career because others tell me to or because of alternate opinions. I’m in control of my life, and I control my own destiny.

  • I have chosen to become a teacher because I myself am a product of someone whom I consider to be a wonderful teacher. Not one person can recall their experiences in school without picturing at least one teacher who impacted their life positively. I desire to be that teacher. In the teaching profession your career is defined as; a person who instructs. However, beyond this superficial definition I believe there is a much more.

    I want to show students how extraordinary learning can be by engaging them in the classroom. I will encourage curious, passionate, and exceptional students that will grow into adults who are intrigued by discovery. Maria Montessori said, “Our care of the child should be governed, not by the desire to make him learn things, but by the endeavor always to keep burning within him that light which is called intelligence.” If I as a teacher allow that light to go out in a student then I have failed. I will teach them the skills they need to know to succeed academically, and the skills they will need to love themselves and others.
    This teachers experience is proof that if there are people willing to believe in these kids then they will make a difference in at least one persons life. I believe that my calling in to teach elementary age children. I want to instill in them a love for learning early on in life so that it is something special they can carry with them their whole life. Because, if we have people who are able to learn, and want to learn we would have a world full of people with endless potential.
    -Katelyn Linson

  • This story explains the plight of many teachers within America, all worthy of recognition. Although I’m not a professional teacher, I am a student, and I understand how the lack of strong leadership at home can place a burden on the teacher and/or mentor to pick up the slack. However, burden or not, teachers and mentors take on this task and truly succeed at it.

    During my freshman year of college, I entered a predominantly white college with no idea of what I got myself into. Although I was not the victim of outright racism, it was the first time in my life where I actually felt different and out of place. I cried for the first three months alone in my dorm. It wasn’t until a friend brought me into the American Intercultural Center, the multicultural space on campus, that I felt at home. Shawn, an advisor within the center, helped me to truly be able to feel comfortable.

    Shawn was a biracial male, but all of the black kids in the center identified closely with him. It was this man who I personally identified with and was proud to call my mentor. He convinced me into becoming an active member within the school, beginning with Black Student Union and eventually branching out to become much more. I did not grow up with a strong male figure within my life, and Shawn fulfilled that role with pride. He was definitely someone that I will remember throughout all of my years in college. If it wasn’t for his passion for education and helping students, I would not be who I am today.

    Now, I am a part of 10 organizations and/or leadership positions on campus. And to think, it all started with someone who cared enough to show me the right way. To this teacher/mentor, and everyone who takes the time to be someone’s role model, I thank you.

  • This is super awe inspiring, as long as you have the ability to breathe and function there exists the opportunity to grow change and impact the world around you.

  • This article is amazing. It truly brings to light a great disparity in our beloved country. Teachers are more than just educators or babysitters. It was put best in the article when the interviewee stated “teachers seem to be required to be counselors, mentors, and even stand-ins for parents.” Yet, the salary of a teacher does not come close to fully compensating them for their FULL job description.

    I am the son of a teacher, and I can tell you that teachers, especially those with multiple children, do not have the resources they fully need to live comfortably. I grew up in a single parent household with two other siblings, so that made things even more difficult for my mother to fully support the financial needs that children have. Many of the teachers that I know work another job or two to bring in extra pay, and teach summer school to have some sort of income during the summer months.

    I truly believe that this country needs to put more focus and resources into supporting the many educators, such as the interviewee, who become inspirational and influential in the lives of all of our youth. If we really do care about the future direction of this country, it starts with properly grooming the next leaders of of our country and our businesses and corporations. And that just simply cannot be done with the wages teaching professionals are paid. Schools miss out on great talent simply because people who may want to teach choose another profession because it pays more, and our children are the ones who suffer.

    Thank you to all of the teachers who have stuck it out because of the non-financial rewards you get from being a teacher. You are the reason people like myself, a graduating senior in a top engineering program at a Top 10 university, push so hard everyday to become more successful. You are the inspiration behind every great invention, every great new company, and even the next President of the United States of America. You do not always get the credit you deserve, but do always know that no matter how much grief your students give you, if you get through to and inspire just one student, the domino effect of that inspiration can potentially change the world!

  • Being an African American teenager growing up in my area, many people believed that we would make it as far as middle school. My graduating class consisted of 78 kids and many of us were pushed to do better from our English teacher Andrew Kulak. He motivate us to do better because he hated to see the youth of the school drop out and also end up on the streets like the students before us. He has inspired me to do better and become better. This story is one that I can relate to because I am one of those students who has came from nothing and has had that one teacher give me hope and inspire me to go above and beyond and to perform my best at all times.
    Teachers like this are what make the kids who come from bad backgrounds to have hope that they can become something that they thought were only in their dreams.

  • This story speaks to me, because it was my high school English teacher that focused my attention to poetry, Shakespeare, and short stories that somehow open my eyes to the beauty of art in all forms of the medium. At the time she was a younger woman with big blonde hair and in a small town like mine, she was the most beautiful woman I had seen besides on T.V. I noticed for the first time that my English teacher was a truly happy woman, who was single and appeared to have all of her ducks in a row. As a confused, lonely, teenage girl, I looked up to her and trusted what she had to say. We had to have a journal, almost like a diary in class and she would read and respond weekly to my entries. I wrote a lot of poems and short stories and she really seemed to appreciate my thoughts and encouraged me to continue to write. I truly believe that through my writing I became interested in art and I thank and blame her for that.

  • I feel like this article relates to my life. Our generation is the key to the future. My English teacher teaches us the life that is going on behind us and how it is affecting us citizens in the country. Instead of following the same curriculum every year, he teaches us new things and has us puts it in our perspective. I actually love my English class because he talks to us like we are adults and not little kids. He wants us to be engaged in the class and have many class discussions about Peace Protest and Tolerance. When we have class discussions, we listen to what each of the students have to say about any topic. He has us use our minds and actually THINK. My teacher makes me want to learn more and more each day. However, as we read our books in class and talk about it, we would make personal connections and relate it to our own daily lives. So I believe that my English teacher is passionate about what he does and inspires our young minds.

  • This article is very approachable, it speaks from the heart. I can relate to this teacher’s passion and drive to help students. I work at a school running the before school and after school programs for the students, and while I don’t get paid much I love the experience of working with kids ranging from 4-13 years old. Each one of them teaches me something new, most often they teach me how to be a kid again and have fun enjoying the little things like playing on the monkey bars or playing tag. I also gain a lot when I help them with their homework, I have learned different techniques to helping them depending on what kind of learner they are. I’m very grateful for gaining this experience with kids, and it has made me very passionate about working with kids in the future as a Speech Language Pathologist.

  • I can relate to this article because I want to insprie young minds. Although I am not going to be an English or History teacher, I do want to become a PE teacher and coach. I take teaching children very serious and I have had some success with coaching. I have taught young people the importance of having the right attitude when you approach anything in life and how to respect others. I want to be a good role model for young people and that is why I am going to teach/coach.

  • I know the feeling of a teacher that influences you with their confidence in what they are teaching but also the fact that they enjoy teaching. I think that the way that someone can learn great things is through a teacher like that, a role model. I have had many teachers in life, and many of my high school teachers pushed me to learn subjects that I would argue, “is a waste of my time” but now that I’m in college I kind of regret telling them off, because those classes that are a waste of my time, are actually the core classes that ground me in college today. I wish that I could meet those teachers again so I can tell them that everything, from what they taught me in the classroom to what they taught me morally, is what makes me confident in my success today.

  • Being an older professional making a transition between fields, I can definitely relate to this powerful article. Education and Health are crucial sectors of a community and the professionals who work in these fields really need to be attended to, since their well-being will bring about a better education system and a better health care system: seriously do we want our children to receive education and healthcare from disgruntled teachers and nurses.
    So in this frame of mind, there should be some serious revisions to the income of this class of professionals (that is the educators class) since healthcare professionals receive sizable income for the most part.
    Being passionate about your profession transpires through your performance and if you really love what you do for a living, not only it reflects on your performance but it also improves your quality of life since you’re happy at least 40 hours a week. (what happens at home can be a different story).

  • This was a great article that i can connect to. before heading off to college i had to decide whether i wanted to be a mechanical engineer or a science/math teacher. i really enjoy math and science which is why i want to become a mechanical engineer. I was also a certified math tutor so i helped many student with math homework or helping them study for a test. I can also relate to the fact that it feels good when you finish something that was a lot of work, true satisfaction comes from hard work.

    As the teacher stated, a great amount of satisfaction is generated when somebody you mentored comes back and tell you they aced their test and have improved due to your help. I also liked what the teacher said, i remember all those teachers that have shaped my life and have allowed me to realize the relevance importance and beauty of mathematics and scientific inquiry. There are many smart kids out there that just need guidance or a push to become great engineers scientists mathematicians. I would like to be that person who inspires them to pursue science and mathematics. I chose to study mechanical engineering in order to take many math and science classes as well as having a career that can apply both disciplines. later in life i would like to be a math teacher, but for now i will focus on mechanical engineering.

  • This was a great article. Just recently I have begun thinking about getting into education. I am looking to teaching at a community college, but the reason are much the same as this teacher. I want to be the teacher who is there to support the student on their path toward a higher education. I know community college can be a very difficult time because your success is completely dependent on yourself, and there are time that you will not know what you need to do to succeed, making failure unavoidable. I want to change that, I want to improve the transparency of what it takes to become a successful transfer student. This article helped me come up to that conclusion.

  • I relate with this article because, although I want to become an Early Childhood Educator, I have a passion for helping people, and I chose to do so one way by teaching. I agree with this teacher that all people can learn, and seeing that “aha” moment is wonderful! A few summers ago while I was still in high school, I volunteered at a daycare. I was asked to help a couple of children with their work, one of which was on her way to kindergarten and could not recite the whole alphabet or write her own name. By the time I left the daycare, she could write her name, recite her alphabet, and recognize letters and numbers that she did not before. I felt so incredible knowing that just taking not even more than a month to work with these children and not only did I see improvement, but they saw their improvement and enjoyed learning how to do things that they couldn’t before. It is nothing to take a little time to sit and work with children and make sure they understand what their learning, and I just hope that when I do get into teaching I can not only take that time to teach them and help them understand, but I want to also push them to want to learn for themselves.

  • I can relate to her because I am also passionate about teaching in the classroom. I I have worked in a middle school for 13 years as a teacher assistant. Teenagers are very hard to deal with. The school I work in is predominantly attended by African Americans. This school has a high poverty rate and most students here live with their mother’s only. She states how teachers have to be mentors, counselors and sometimes stand-in parents for the children. I deal with this everyday. There are lots of times I want to leave and go somewhere else and work but I just can’t leave these children. These children need all the motivation in life they can get. I make it my responsibility to put forth every effort in making their dreams a reality!

  • The artice actually brought tears to my eyes when you have a teacher who actually love her job and cares for her students.
    She stated that she has written a letter of resignation a number of times but always tears it up.
    I know how she feels because teenagers are a lot to deal with, although Im not interested in being a teacher I am interested in social service/ probation for teenagers and she was an inspiration. Although its a tough road she is still hanging in there. We were all in those teenagers seats before and know what problems are or can at least attempt to figure them out.

  • I loved reading this interview/article. It was very truthful and encouraging for when considering a career in Education in the new future. Thanks!