Thank a Teacher

There are zany holidays for everything now. National “May the 4th be with you day” to honor Star Wars and squirrel appreciation day are just two of the many goofy days that have made it on to “some” calendars. This week marks National Teacher Appreciation Week. This is not a zany week of random facts to celebrate. This is a week to honor those that help, have helped and will help us grow as students. A week to thank those that want nothing more than to see that spark for learning fire in a child.

We have all had great teachers that have made a difference in our lives. I am lucky. I get to come to work at The Woods Academy each day and be with such a group. People who care deeply about educating the mind as much as they do the heart and soul of the children at The Woods. Our kids are lucky. In my own life, there are three teachers that stand out to me that I would like to thank as well.

Mrs. O’Neill was my 7th and 8th grade social studies teacher. I was a history major in college for two reasons. My mom was a history teacher and so was Mrs. O’Neill. Mrs. O’Neill believed in me and I knew it. She was strict and fair and helped me love social studies. Her love for the material and the knuckleheads she was teaching it to was real. I always wanted to do well in her class because I knew she believed in me.

Fr. Stan O’Konsky, SJ was my junior and senior year English teacher. He was more than just that though. From his “gentle” guidance on where I should look to college, to our mutual interest in the group Creedence Clearwater Revival, to his “watchful” eye on me as I navigated my way through high school, Fr. O’Konsky was there for me. Yes, he taught me a thing or two about grammar and literature too, but he was a spiritual director for me before I even knew what that was.

Dr. Carolyn Bashaw was my senior thesis advisor in college. She questioned me, made me think and ultimately guided me through the process of analyzing history. Those teachers I mentioned before laid the groundwork and Dr. Bashaw, with her Georgia accent in good old upstate New York, got me to rise to the occasion. I may not have written the best thesis paper ever, but she did make me realize that I could do significant academic work.

Each one of these teachers (and many others) left an indelible mark on me. So much so that 20-30 years later I can still hear their voice. Below is a link to an amazing TED talk video By Rita Pierson that was recently shared with me. Ms. Pierson is a teacher of 40 years and champion of children. Watch. Enjoy. Be inspired. Thank a teacher (or teachers) this week.