Happy Teacher Appreciation Week! From all of us here at Education Sector, thank you teachers for doing the amazing work you do, and for making a difference in students’ lives every day! This week we celebrate you by remembering teachers from our own past who impacted us in truly amazing ways…
My 11th grade AP US history teacher’s enthusiasm for the subject was contagious. I already liked American history when I entered her class, but Mrs. Warren made me fall in love. More than a decade later, I still remember one of her first class lectures, where she described American foreign policy cycling back and forth from isolationism to engagement. I was hooked! And I will never forget her assertion that there are some things in history that are so crazy, you just can’t make them up (like John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both dying on the very same July 4th). Her wise words continue to influence my thinking, not just about American history, but also about world history, politics, and current events.
–Jennie Herriot Hatfield
Hugh Ogden was just as likely to call your poems trash, laden with adjectives and lazy imagery, as he was to push back in his chair, run a hand through his stringy whitish hair and let loose a disbelieving obscenity, a single tear sliding down his cheek. During breaks in class he’d sit on the front steps of the English building and smoke one of the Carltons from the pack that flirted with falling from his breast pocket every time he leaned forward to make a point. As he smoked, he’d twitch his mustache, which was yellowed from all the nicotine. Sometimes he’d go to his illegally-parked Volvo to check on his dog, Butternut, who looked like him.
I was hardly Hugh’s best student. The only things written on the first assignment he returned to me were a red X stretching from corner to corner and his phone number. But I persevered, and at the end of my sophomore year, Hugh offered me an opportunity: teach poetry to Hartford students at a magnet arts academy he’d helped start.
My first few times in front of a class were terrifying, and it probably wasn’t in my best interests — or my students’ — to try and mimic his pedagogical style. But while Hugh was never able to turn me into a decent poet, he did more than anybody to make me passionate about education. Hugh died a few days before New Year’s 2007, but I’ll never forget him or his gift.
Do you have a story of your own? A certain teacher you’d like to recognize? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.