I imagine that every person who chose education as a career has a teacher in the past who was a positive influence. I’ve written about favorite teachers before, but as I sit here contemplating those individuals, again, I can’t narrow it down to one. In elementary school, Barb Ihnen was my third and fourth-grade teacher. We adored her. She made her classroom and learning fun. It was even differentiated back then (though I didn’t know that term), and some was self-paced. I was so excited when I found out she was changing positions and would be my fourth grade teacher, as well. Just this past fall, I was blessed to work with Barb again, this time with her as my mentor in my principal’s licensing program. She is still an innovative and outstanding educator, now as a principal in an elementary school.
In junior high, I was in an advanced math class. That meant that I took eighth-grade math in seventh-grade, and Algebra the following year. In my small school, I had Mr. Bud Tully for both years. He was getting close to retirement age when I was there, but he still loved his job. You could just tell. He was friendly, happy, and patient every day – not an easy thing when you deal with seventh- and eighth-graders all day. He would often give up his prep period to work with my friend and I if we were confused on homework assignments. He never made us feel like we were a burden, but welcomed us in any time we needed help.
I had a handful of teachers then between high school and college whom I appreciated. None had the impact on me that my younger years’ teachers did. This may have been the reason I was driven towards elementary teaching as my career choice. Another teacher in my life may have influenced that choice, as well. My mother was a kindergarten teacher for over forty years. She was excellent in the classroom, and in the home. She showed me what a working mother could accomplish, and she did it well. I couldn’t have asked for a better model as a parent, or as a professional.
I have had times throughout my career when I have wondered, “What if…” I had chosen a different career path. But the bottom line is, I care about kids, and I care about the educational system. I’m proud to be in education, and thankful for those who have taught me along the way. Have you thanked a teacher today?