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Teachers We Remember Most

By Mary Pikul

Most everyone can remember a time that they were inspired by a teacher. They often make our world, our minds, and our perspectives open up to a new view of possibilities. How do they do it? Are they magical beings?  Well, maybe to many they are.

Any teacher that can guide a child to potentially becoming who they want to be is truly an amazing feat.  A passion to teach comes from a place of understanding people and believing in making a difference in those lives. So, come on tell me who your favorite teacher is?

No, not all who teach us are public school teachers. Maya Angelou taught us how to understand and feel poetry. Ronald Reagan taught us how to come together and unite as one.  There are vast amounts of all kinds of teachers in the world. Special Education, Music, Art, Dance, etc. Though, when we do speak about just how many school teachers there are today, the astounding number of around 93.7 million* should not surprise you.

When someone asks you about a teacher you know or you think about a teacher in someone else’s life, the teacher you know pops in your mind immediately if they had a profound impact on you.

Thinking back myself, there were a handful. Though, the earliest I can remember a teacher actually acknowledging me was around third grade. Now, I come from a small town, was very shy, and was not given opportunities to learn prior to attending school, such as nursery school or home school. So, I was already not a fan of school when I arrived. By the time I reached third grade, I figured it would be the same kind of class, same kind of work, and the same kind of teacher: the ones that always looked me over. Come to find out, I was wrong.

Our teacher’s name that year was Mrs. Kathi Widmann.  I was unsure what to think. To me, I already knew she was different.  Her name was not a name I had heard before. Of course you know what I mean. In talking with other friends or siblings of friends who would pass down “information” about teachers they had and would warn you if you got one that they had!

She was a young teacher with a lot of energy and loved interacting with her students.  All the other kids really liked her, and she had creative ideas, which I loved.

At this point in my young life, all I knew was that I did not want to go another day to school. We weren’t from this town, I did not know anyone, and I felt that I didn’t fit in. Therefore, I decided to be invisible.  Quiet and invisible. I thought I was winning at this point. No one was bothering me or asking me questions.

I was never the kid who made friends easily. Being bullied because of my name, my clothes, and several other things kept me in the dark. As the year moved along, I remember she would teach us about writing short stories.  Writing poetry at home was something enjoyable to me, so this came naturally. On one parent-teacher night, I can recall Mrs. Widmann saying my short stories were really good. She was always encouraging in that way. Something I was never offered anywhere else in life.  Hearing some words of enthusiasm woke up a part of me I didn’t know I had. Hope.

Then, one day, I was not in a very great mood. Tired, hungry and a bit grumpy as most kids are by lunch time. The lunch line was taking forever. While we waited, Mrs. Widmann walks up to me and asks me something. “Mary, would you mind moving up in line and standing with another girl who could use a friend?” I agreed, begrudgingly and probably with an eye roll. Feeling like I was already the weird one in the class, this was all I needed. More grief.

Remembering that day as clear as crystal is something always held dearly to me. The other student, Noreen. What happened from that point on, I cannot tell you. Nevertheless, Noreen and I have been friends since that moment in the school lunch line. We had so much in common, especially music. Music is our favorite!  In later years, we walked home from school together. She only lived around the block from me. Who knew!  Those friends don’t come along often.

As busy as teachers are all the time, it’s inspiring to me that they take some time in between to encourage, nurture, or guide. So many have this great gift. From the pre-school teachers to high school, college and into the future. They create a spark in students that may have not been there otherwise. The careers they make building up thousands upon thousands of people to help them on their way to who they will become is nothing short of a God given talent.

Thank you to every teacher that takes the time to inspire. The incredible journeys of education you take us on, the passion you put in to bringing brilliant ideas to light. As for the future, it is clear to so many that teachers will take us there and as far as we can reach.

You see, they see what everyone else doesn’t.  That’s what takes someone from being ordinary to being a teacher.

*2019, TeacherTaskForce.org, Data on Teachers

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