This week, we’re mixing up our regular blog programming to highlight some of the teachers that impacted our lives. The work that you do is never unnoticed at School Perceptions. We know full well that what other people call overtime, you call a normal week. Please enjoy these short write-ups from some of our team members below.
Cari (Project Implementation Manager):
My favorite teacher was a bit intimidating at first. To my 10-year-old eyes she seemed very old and very wise and didn’t initially seem like the “fun” teacher. (I still believe she was very wise, but I imagine she was likely in her early 50’s – so not quite so old!) Mrs. Odegaard had very high expectations for all other students, both academically and behaviorally, but loads of patience as well. As a veteran teacher on an overseas military base, she understood that children needed structure, especially when families relocated often. I watched as newly enrolled classmates tested the boundaries the first few weeks but became fully engaged and (seemingly) much happier children before too long. She took a special interest in every student; I suspect we all felt like her favorite. I know I truly believed I was. She kept in touch for many years, sending postcards and letters, probably until she was quite elderly. I can’t imagine how many students she impacted over the years, and we’re all better for having known her.
Tom (Project Manager):
While many great teachers have made an impact on my life, the most important was Mrs. G. She taught me twice in both freshman and junior year of high school. Her biology lessons were some of the most engaging and enjoyable learning experiences I’ve ever had, and I have fond memories of all the interesting dissections and projects we completed. While I didn’t end up in the life sciences field, Mrs. G inspired a passion for the natural world and a desire to understand how things work. Thank you to all our outstanding teachers this week and every week!
Bill (President & Founder):
There is no doubt that teachers change lives. For me, his name was George Bullis. Standing 6’8”, this man was not only towering physically, but he was also towering intellectually. As a result, George could be very intimidating. George was my calculus and differential equations professor at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. Even though I eventually navigated through a minor in mathematics, this subject never came easy for me. I remember one day when I was struggling with a math problem (as well as pass trying to pass all the other science courses required for my engineering degree!), George gave me some priceless advice. He said, “Foster, we are not here to try to teach you everything you’re going to need when you get a job. That’s impossible. We are here to teach you how to think and solve problems. If you learn how to do this, you’ll be successful.” George went on to explain that when you’re sitting in a class, listen for and learn the concepts. He said, “You’ll be tested on the concepts. The homework is a tool to help you learn the concept. Once you learned the concept, you don’t need to do any more problems.” Wow. Once I shifted my thinking, I spent less time studying, more time learning, and my grades soared. This advice changed my life. Thank you, George Bullis!
Rob (Research Director):
I can’t help but look at my own teachers but also the teachers that grew up around me as I earned my own teaching degree. Some of the most important people in my life are public school teachers. Will Huth, Abby Koberstein, Ally Hrkac, Colleen Kollasch, Dee Jay Redders, Courtney Adams, Kyle Walsh, Jordan Listenbee, Annie Wilcox Panzer, and Anne Powling are all unceasingly wise and thoughtful. They never let me forget what it’s like to be “in the trenches.” Annette Walaszek and Jeff Buczek were two formative Algoma High School teachers who deserve much credit for helping me develop an academic foundation early in my life. Mrs. Walaszek put together extremely challenging science classes that, more than anything else, taught me to persist with difficult-to-learn material and ask for help when I need it. Mr. Buczek made calculus, dare I say, fun. Math can be intimidating and grueling. He made it neither of those things and helped lead me to pursue math-related graduate-level work. THANK YOU.
Lindsey (Data Analyst):
It was a regular afternoon sometime in the second half of my junior year of high school, and a friend and I were hanging out in an unused classroom near the English department. As we worked on our psychology notes and talked about music, my Senior English Seminar teacher – that is, my Creative Writing teacher – entered the room, his arms full of papers. My friend knew this teacher from a different class, and they started talking. Much to my embarrassment, my friend started talking about me. This was probably revenge for my nonstop talking about the class since starting it a few weeks earlier. From assignments of writing a 26-word story (every word in alphabetical order) to a story of only dialogue, I had rather unknowingly thrown myself into the work. The assignments were interesting, and my teacher was supportive of every idea I had – from story ideas to playing with story form. As I attempted to melt into a puddle in the ground that afternoon, my teacher said something to my friend that’s stuck with me ever since: “She’s really talented.” As time has gone on, my teacher’s comment has meant more and more to me. Looking back, my writing in that short class was terrible. (I mean, I was sixteen, and it was my first class.) But my teacher saw my enthusiasm and encouraged it, no matter how odd or untraditional my ideas were. And to a student, the kind of support where a teacher calls you talented is better than any grade on a report card.
This post was written in no small part because of the teachers in our lives.