As I reflect upon my past 25 years as an educator, I want to be sure that the educators who impacted my life in positive ways are acknowledged.
In kindergarten, Mrs. Patterson's lap and arms were always open for comfort or correction. She taught me that the power of kindness is never to be underestimated. First grade teacher Mrs. Kirkpride taught me to knit and that I was important to her. Sixth grade teacher Mr. Wolf challenged me to think. He asked us Why? and How? And he made us give good answers.
In junior high, Mrs. Evans and Mrs. Matuska taught me to write, to read, and the preposition song. But they also gave their time and taught me that giving of yourself is a beautiful thing. My eighth grade social studies teacher taught me that I could be anything that I wanted if I was willing to work for it. Mr. Dibiase wore a white lab coat, gave extra credit questions which could always be answered correctly with "Kate Smith," and taught me that learning should be fun.
In high school, outstanding educators prepared me for college and career, even though no one thought about it in those terms back then. Mrs. Becky Manning taught me that teachers could be friends and still retain their professionalism. Senor Merle Russo taught me that you can always have a do-over. He let me retake the Spanish test that I answered in Latin! Mr. Don Herron taught me how to read critically, how to take notes, and how to study. Mrs. Kathleen Hissam, taught me not to be afraid to ask questions. Mr. David Price taught me to love literature and that teachers should inspire their students. Mr. Robert Shansky taught me to think for myself and speak up. Mr. Tom Ash, superintendent, taught me that students have a voice and should be heard.
Finally, Mrs. Nessie Davis, counselor, helped me through the college application process, let me cry in her office when my father was ill, and explained to the assistant principal when I was late coming back from mentoring that it was because of the snow and not because I was skipping. And she inspired me to be an educator myself even though I didn't know it until I was a sophomore in college. Unfortunately, Mrs. Davis passed away before I graduated college, and I never was able to tell her the incredible impression she made upon me.
All of these teachers have impacted my life. They have helped to shape who I am as a parent, friend, and educator. They are a part of me, and I am most thankful. If you know an educator who has impacted you for good, tell them. It means more than gifts or cards. After all, we become educators not for the extrinsic rewards but for the chance to touch the future. Let them know they did.
(Kimberly Pietsch Miller, a 1985 graduate of East Liverpool High School, is assistant superintendent of teaching and learning with the Loveland (Ohio) City School District)