Happy National Teacher Appreciation Day! We are so proud to celebrate and honor the incredible educators who have devoted their profession to teaching our future leaders, change makers, and innovators. We are grateful to work with many inspiring and dedicated teachers on the journey towards ensuring a high-quality and equitable education to every kid in Colorado.
Some of our team members took the time to reflect on past teachers that have made an impact on their lives. Even though many years have passed, the influence of these educators is still strongly felt. Their words are a testament to the power that teachers have on how we think about the world and believe in ourselves!
Danielle I was lucky to have a lot of dedicated teachers over my educational career, but Mr. Mitchell really sticks out. He taught 9th grade English and was the first teacher who really saw me as a human, not just one of the hundreds of students coming in and out of his classroom each day. I often refer to those junior high years as “the dark years,” but Mr. Mitchell was a beacon of light. When you spoke in Mr. Mitchell’s class, he listened. He wasn’t multi-tasking or screening for the right answer—he was deeply invested in actively listening, hearing your whole truth, and understanding your perspective. And then, he demanded excellence—academic excellence, but also that we be better humans to each other and to ourselves. He listened. He cared. He saw me. And it made all the difference.
Janine Mr. Gluckman was the 5th grade Social Studies teacher that everyone feared. He was curiously militant about us using blue ink erasable pens and those black and white marbled composition notebooks. He had a habit of peering down at us above his horn-rimmed, bottle cap glasses while talking and loudly tapping his pointer stick on his perfectly pre-written notes on the chalkboard. He was far from the warm and fuzzy type, but he helped shape my outlook.
He took all us awkward 11 year-olds very seriously and pushed each of us to meet his high standards. Mr. Gluckman taught me that discipline can be a tool to help me achieve and aim higher. He didn’t mind being most students’ least favorite teacher if it meant that we learned how to push ourselves harder. He wasn’t your typical example of selflessness, but that’s what Mr. Gluckman was to me.
Lynette To my professor Galindo; who helped changed the trajectory of a girl of color in a white man’s world; you who helped me believe in my ability as a women of color; you who said, “You can do this, keep going!” and never let us forget it; who left indelible impacts on education around food justice and oppression. An inspired educator seeks to not just educate his/her students, but to teach them to be the best version of themselves to better serve the community. For the first time in my education, I was challenged to learn at higher and higher levels and commit to fighting for my community. Mr. Galindo supported my love of learning by encouraging me to go beyond what he was teaching.
Eura I still have fond memories of my AP Bio class with Mr. Stanslaski! He had the coolest classroom: there was an aquarium of colorful fish, an ornery iguana whose tail would literally fall off if he was startled, and a small tank of hissing cockroaches that you could hold for five points extra credit. Mr. Stanslaski loved seeing curiosity in his students and would answer any question you had for him, even if it wasn’t necessary related to the topic at hand. I remember asking him so many questions about things like ebola or whether or not our brains continue functioning if we go into a coma. He respected our intellect, even though we were bratty high school seniors, and took our inquiries seriously. When he spoke to us about his relationship between his Catholic faith and his belief in evolution, he displayed an openness that humbled his students. I am forever grateful to Mr. Stanslaski for demonstrating that learning is more than just reading a text book, it’s thinking critically about the world around you and pursuing knowledge beyond what you’re told.
Krista I give my high school science teacher a lot of credit for his patience and persistence. He was the only science teacher for 7th through 12th grade in my school. His workload for heavy and his expectations were high for all of his students. It was not easy to keep my class’s attention, but Mr. VanBoening loved science so much that he was able to find new ways every week to recapture our interest. He would stay on a topic until he felt like every student understood the material and answered every question we had along the way. To this day, I still reference things he taught me and appreciate his hard work.
Ivana I have a few teachers who have impacted my life! In first grade, Teacher Marvin used to play the guitar for us after recess to get us back in the groove of learning. He took the time to get to know me and my family, so much so that when his family moved back to the United States I was given their daughter’s toys! In third grade Teacher Patricia taught me how to dream big, she believed in me and didn't treat me like a child but as a mature student. In sixth grade teacher Randy taught me to think outside the box and about the beauty of the world we live in. He showed us a world map and made us memorize the names of each country and its capital. We heard so many beautiful stories and understood how big the world really was. Lastly, Teacher Lincoln taught me to take risks. He was with us through high school and was the person who sat me down my junior year and pushed me to apply for colleges in the United States. He told me he could guide me through the process and could talk to my parents about how my opportunities would be exponentially better if I left. I might have not left the Dominican Republic if it wasn't for Teacher Lincoln and I would not be the person I am today if it wasn't for every single teacher who changed my life and supported me.