Eighteen years of education, ten schools and over thirty-some-odd teachers. From preschool to graduate school, I studied under an array of educators, many influential in my development, both positive and negative. I've had the teacher who told me I could be anything I dreamed, from painter to president. And I have also had the teacher who told me the exact thing I desired to be, was not a suitable career for my skills and abilities (in her opinion). I'm not certain which inspired me more, the former or the latter, but they were all extraordinary in their own right.
Selecting a standout candidate from the long list of educators I've encountered isn't the easiest decision to make. Mainly because my memory isn't what it used to be (eh hem, "mom brain" I believe it's called, I cant remember?!!). Yet it's not necessarily a challenge either. There was my third grade teacher who taught me that taking pride in my work and myself was more valuable than the row of gold stars next to my name; my high school Geometry teacher who helped me realize I wasn't bad at math, but a visual learner who needed a different approach; and, there was the college professor who encouraged me to submit my writing to a professional journal and ordered the second copy of my published work (I got the first). These are a few that come to mind, and I know there were countless others who understood the impact of their role extended beyond the classroom.
The work of these teachers can only be rivaled or better yet, complimented, by my children's teachers who see in my children their own unique strengths and abilities, who foster a safe and fun learning environment, and who are, in large part, the reason why the answer to "How was your day?" is always "I had a great day!" They are valued and trusted partners who helped me teach my children everything from how to use the potty to how to write their name to how to help a friend in need. They've even taught me a few things, and though I say thank you, I don't feel it's ever enough.
Given my experience, I can't say for certain if my children will recall their teacher's names 30+ years from now, but I know I will.