May 7, 2013 Teacher Appreciation Day

Reading Time: 4 minutes
Image created for West Wind Education Policy by Leah Dusterhoft

In recognition of the day, some of us at West Wind want to share about teachers from our K-12 years who we remember and appreciate.

BY DEB HANSEN—I have been thinking lately about my High School German teacher, Frau (Mrs.) Chua. At the time I thought she was very strict, and I was a bit intimidated by her, but now that I am an educator, I realize she used great instructional practices. She provided theory, always demonstrated what she wanted us to learn, gave us daily time to practice, and coached us on our usage. As a teenager, I thought we had a lot of quizzes and assignments, but I suspect she using formative assessment to inform her instruction. Surely, my German teacher is long since retired, but maybe not — when you are 15 everybody over 25 looks old. She would have been pleased to hear me speaking German, as I traveled through Austria last summer. Of course, I was rusty, but a bit of review with audio tapes refreshed my skills enough that I could chat with new friends in Viennese cafés.

BY VALERIE NYBERG— During Teacher Appreciation week, I would like to thank the teachers I had throughout my K-12 experience. As a highly mobile student–I attended 13 different elementary schools, one junior high, and two high schools–I have to thank those teachers who welcomed me warmly into their classrooms and helped me to belong. Through the often chaotic times that comprised my childhood, my teachers created stability and helped me to see school as my home, and education as my way to survive.

Specifically, I would like to thank the following teachers:

  • Mr. Hughes (5th grade) who made learning really fun, especially history;
  • Mr. Richardson (6th grade) who introduced me to science and space and recognized my talent and skills despite the circumstances;
  • Mrs. Sykes-Perkins (7th & 8th) who taught me that “history is nothing more than HIS-story and should be understood as such”; and who taught me the valuable skills needed to write a 5-paragraph essay;
  • Mrs. Robison (11th grade) who pushed and pushed and pushed me to show up every day and to be brave enough to try my best;
  • Mrs. Starr-Joyle (11th and 12th grade) who encouraged me to write and to think of myself as a writer;
  • Mr. Darling (12th grade) who was a great storyteller and opened the world to me in the form of literature and encouraged all of us to make it what we will.

There are still others who contributed to my development and desire to become an educator who positively impacted my life. I thank them, wherever they are for their hard work and dedication. It has made all the difference.

BY MANDI BOZARTH— The teacher I want to thank today is Ruth Ann Swartzendruber, my school librarian and one of the most interesting people I know. I went to a small rural school from Kindergarten to graduation. With fewer than 300 students enrolled we didn’t offer a lot of electives or any AP classes. My wonderful teachers and administrators used all the resources they had to give us opportunities—I took trigonometry, calculus, chemistry I and II, drama, and foreign languages, and participated in extracurricular activities where we traveled all over the country to participate in academic and science contests. Each one of them helped prepare me to enter college eager to learn and equipped with the skills to succeed.

Yet even with all these opportunities many of us found that by our junior or senior year we had taken every course available outside of athletics—which consisted of track, baseball, softball, and basketball only. I was one of these students and so I became Ms. Swartzendruber’s library assistant for about two hours each week. She could have sent me off dusting books and tidying up, something that would have helped her out and kept me out of her hair. And there were times when she did. But there were also plenty of times when she engaged me in what it means to run a school library for kids from age 5 to 19. She engaged me in the library and I came to understand some of the potential between those walls.

From assisting with story time and puppet plays for the youngest students to helping create displays for senior poetry projects, I had the opportunity to learn skills and take responsibility for my and other students’ learning. She talked to me about banned books and her work in several African countries to share some of the great works of literature I came to know as a young adult–1984 at the top of that list.
So thank you Ms. Swartzendruber for engaging me as a partner in my education. Thanks to you my house is full of books and I have tried to maintain my respect for words and stories throughout my education and my career. And I hope my kids someday have a story about the great teacher/librarian that inspired their love of books.

BY BONNIE RIGGAN—I would like to thank Mrs. Maxson, my high school Spanish teacher. She loved her subject matter and imbued that in many of her students. She rarely spoke a word of English in her classroom, even in first-year classes. We learned by listening and watching which gave such permanence to the learning, for me. Pairing the word with the visual was a great way for me to learn. Mrs. Maxson also taught us about the history and culture of many Spanish-speaking places. That had me hooked and for many years my dream was to travel to Spain.
I eventually did travel to Spain with my son (who counts his own high school Spanish teacher among his favorites) and have since traveled to Puerto Rico. This year, I will spend 6 weeks walking across northern Spain. I am able to make these trips comfortably and confidently thanks to the knowledge and skills I learned from Mrs. Maxson. Gracias!

Theme: Overlay by Kaira