Teachers and educators are monumental figures in our lives.
Who among us can’t point to a teacher as a life-changing influence? Who among us can’t look to an educator who helped us become who but the life lessons that stick with us for the remainder of our lives that make teachers and educators some of the most impactful figures in our lives.
As we prepare to host our second annual Education Career Fair — in which we partner with local school districts across California to host a day of educational exploration for those looking to change careers as well as current educators looking for new opportunities — we’d like to take this opportunity to highlight the lasting impact that educators can make by telling their stories.
A Lifetime of Impact
One Christmas, Mrs. Thompson received a very special gift from one of her 5th graders: a bracelet with some of the rhinestones missing and a half-full bottle of perfume. Ignoring the laughter of the other children, she put on the bracelet and dabbed the perfume on her wrists. At the end of the day, the child who gave her the gift— the often shy and disheveled Teddy Stoddard— came up to her and said "Mrs. Thompson, today you smelled just like my Mom used to."
After helping him through one of the most trying times in his life, Mrs. Thompson went above and beyond to make sure that Teddy succeeded in the classroom when she assumed the role of Teddy’s only supportive, guiding, and caring maternal figure. Needless to say, being an elementary school teacher was Mrs. Thompson's calling, and she built a special bond with her student while making a profound impact in his life.
A great enough impact that, a year later, she found a note under her door, from Teddy, telling her that she was still the best teacher he had ever had. Six years later by she got another note from Teddy telling her that he had finished high school -- third in his class -- and that she was still the best teacher he ever had. Four years later, she got another letter saying that, while things had been tough at times, he'd stayed in school and would soon graduate from college with the highest of honors. He assured Mrs. Thompson that she was still the best teacher he had ever had. A few more years passed and another letter told her that after he got his bachelor's degree, he decided to go a little further, that she was still the best teacher he’d ever had, and then signed the letter as Theodore F. Stoddard, MD. Later that spring, Mrs. Thompson received yet another letter. This one explained that Teddy was getting married, and he asked Mrs. Thompson if she might agree to sit in the place at the wedding that was usually reserved for the mother of the groom.
Mrs. Thompson showed up to Teddy’s wedding and sat in the place reserved for the mother of the groom — wearing her bracelet with the missing rhinestones and the perfume Teddy gave her in 5th grade.
The Bare Essentials
One day Mr. Siedlecki, affectionately known as Mr. Sie, got a call from one of his former students, Dr. Lee Buono. Dr. Buono had just performed an operation that allowed his patient to speak again. After the surgery, the patient tearfully told Dr. Buono to make sure he thanked the person that led him into his career as a neurosurgeon.
When Mr. Sie asked Dr. Buono why he was calling, Dr. Buono said “Do you remember that day after school — I took the brain and spinal cord out of that frog and you told me it was the best you’ve ever seen? You said: “You could be a brain surgeon if you wanted to.” Mr. Sie instilled the young Buono with the confidence and inspiration he needed to become the neurosurgeon who gave the gift of speech, and life, to his many patients.
After that fateful call, Mr. Sie presented Dr. Buono with the frog’s brain and spinal cord, which he had saved for 25 years.
Dr. Buono later said of Mr. Sie “He stuck in my mind like those bare essentials that your parents teach you.”
A Push in the Perfect Direction
Today, Emily Blunt is a golden-globe nominated movie star. During her childhood, she was a shy kid with a crippling stutter. Between the ages of seven and 14, she developed a stutter that made it difficult to hold even the simplest of conversations. That is, until she met the junior high teacher who would change her life.
Blunt’s teacher encouraged her, to the point of implacability, to overcome her fear of speaking by auditioning for the school play. As much as Blunt resisted, her teacher convinced her to take acting lessons and experiment with different accents and character voices to help express herself.
To this day, Emily Blunt credits that teacher for setting her on her path to becoming who she is today– a talented actress and board member of the American Institute for Stuttering.
If making a lasting impact in the lives of children calls to you, we encourage you to heed the call. Our classrooms need more teachers, and our children need your support, guidance, and inspiration. RSVP for our Education Career Fairs here, and learn what it takes to become an educator. If you are already an educator, you will have the chance to meet with local school districts who are looking to hire and fill their classrooms with inspiring teachers and educators, so that every child can have a heartwarming story to tell like the ones above.