Do you remember your favorite teacher? Why did you love them so much? Maybe you are really lucky and you have more than one favorite. I have one favorite teacher. I first met her as my 4th grade teacher, when half of my class was in 4th grade and the other half was in 5th grade, we called it a 4th/5th grade split. But I was extra lucky, and I got to stay with her in fifth grade, too. I know the reason I love her so much isn’t because I was with her for two years; it’s because she truly shaped the person I am today.
Every single day I hear at least one of her wonderful pieces of advice floating through my brain, “Never assume,” “Never use ‘most’ or ‘more’ and ‘-est’ or’- er’ together in the same sentence,” “Irregardless is not a word,” “’A lot’ is two words!” But most importantly, she gave me confidence. I was not the most popular student in grade school. I was self-conscious about my red hair and glasses. I was fine with my freckles, but I had a stain on my front tooth. Even though I smiled a lot, I always kind of figured the person I was smiling at was looking at my stain and not at me.
Miss Dunkelberg taught me to own all of that. She showed me that I was smart, and that I knew what I was doing, so I should stop second guessing myself and just do it. Most of all, she valued me for me. She saw that I was a quirky 10-year-old who loved to imagine I was on adventures far more exciting than my regular school day, and she let me use those in my assignments. After a couple of instances, she got used to me coming to class dressed like a cowgirl because I was comfortable in the outfit, not because I was practicing for Halloween. When I asked if I could do something different with an assignment she had given to the class, I was sure she would say no, but she didn’t. She said yes! I learned that all I needed to do was ask for what I wanted. “If you don’t ask, you’ll never know.” The wisdom she so willingly shared with my ten-year-old self remains today. Miss Dunkelberg was truly the best teacher I have ever had, and I know that I’m not the only student who has felt that way about her. Of course I didn’t stop learning about myself after 5th grade, but she helped me see my own potential for awesomeness, and I now know that’s exactly what I needed in order to grow.
National Teacher Appreciation Day is on May 7. Last year, we asked teachers what they wanted most from their students. It was no surprise that all of them said the best gift would be a meaningful “Thank you” from their students and the parents of their students. So we went to our creative team and came up with some printable “Thank you” cards that you can print out, decorate, sign and give to the educators in your life that you appreciate. Think about your own teachers that you currently have or your children’s teachers, but don’t forget about those teachers that made a difference to you when you were growing up. Imagine how it would make their day to receive one of these sweet notes from you in the mail. What a great way to truly thank them, by showing that you remember and really appreciate the effort they made to connect with you when you were younger.
Who were the teachers that made a difference in your life? Tell us about them in the comments below.