Source: Huffington Post
Today we celebrate National Teacher Day, an annual occasion to pause from the busyness of the classroom to say “thank you” to those who’ve made a difference in our educational lives. Whether a professor, guidance counselor, art teacher, or principal, we all have that one unique person who went above and beyond to inspire our learning. And for that gift–for challenging us and believing in our ability to succeed–this day only scratches the surface on the deep gratitude that is due.
In fact, we believe that every day should be National Teacher Day. Which is one of the reasons why we started the Inspired2Educate program, so that we can encourage a more robust national conversation around the many different ways educators leave a lasting, positive impact on our lives – not just while in the classroom, but for a lifetime.
So far, the program has received more than a hundred incredible stories of hope and inspiration since launching in February, and we hope to receive many more. One of the most rewarding and moving aspects of reading through these submissions is their incredible diversity and authenticity. Inspiration is a very personal thing, and can mean something very different to each person.
For example, a recent submission came from a flamenco dance teacher at an elementary school in Washington, DC who was inspired by her own dance mentor to not pursue professional dance – but to go into education. At school, she uses her classes to teach young students not just choreography, but important life skills like cooperation, hard-work, responsibility, and self-respect. “I always make certain students can laugh at their mistakes – and relax enough to see their strengths and weaknesses without being hard on themselves,” she said. “Together we relish in the learning process.”
Another moving story came from a math teacher in Massachusetts, who insisted she was “one of those kids” in 2nd grade who couldn’t seem to find her path, and received constant criticism from her teachers about her lack of direction. That is, until a patient and caring educator found a way to tap into her full potential by taking her out of the classroom and into the gym, where she learned focus and discipline while helping to clean lockers, stack yoga mats, and organize equipment. “There under the [balance] beam, I learned to add 1/4 and 1/2. Up on the beam, I practiced while Mrs. Smith talked about fractions and gravity, momentum, and muscle cells. She spoke of history and maps. I jumped and twirled, and began to know that the world was interesting,” she remembered. “At 27, I completed a BS degree. At 39, I got my Master’s of Education. I am one of the lucky ones. Someone saw me as worthwhile.”