Our lives are shaped by people and events. Most of us area pretty good at documenting, and often celebrating, the important events. And as for the people who shape our lives, they are the heroes (and "sheroes") we carry around in our hearts and souls.
Many people can readily identify one man or one woman who has made a difference in their lives and I applaud those people. Some of us, I believe, are even more fortunate to have a group of people who influenced us. For me, that group includes the teachers who helped me build the person I became. While there were several important teachers in my life, I want to share with you some stories about Mrs. Hunter, Mr. Bamick, and Mrs. Johnson.
The 1950s and 1960s were a great time to experience life. As a kid growing up in Southern California, unlike other parts of the country, it was acceptable, sometimes even encouraged, to take changes and not be afraid to be different from others.
Mrs. Hunter, my third-grade teacher, changed the course of my life. She was an elderly woman but had a youthful soul. While no one would have ever considered Mrs. Hunter a sports activist or enthusiast, she understood how important sports were to me. I still have a report card she sent home to my parents in which she wrote that I had good muscle coordination and was very good under pressure. She encouraged my parents to make sure that I stayed involved in sports, as it was something that motivated me.
Mrs. Hunter had the rare ability to see the best in people and worked hard to make sure she brought that out in each of her students. Since I was a young child, I have had a real love of music and Mrs. Hunter knew that. I remember one day she asked us to take out our pencils and pretend to use them as if we were conducting an orchestra. Let's just say that I was in heaven and I think some of my classmates were as well. Mrs. Hunter had the uncanny ability to home in on a person’s strength, and then work to make them feel so good about themselves that they used the strengths they had.
As I grew older I was your typical kid, and while many people may have a hard time believing it, I was actually a little shy. One thing that absolutely terrified me was speaking in public. It was my sixth-grade teacher, Mr. Bamick, who helped me get past that. That year we had to present four oral book reports in front of the class. Some of the kids didn't even flinch, but I was scared to death. Mr. Bamick recognized my fear, so he told me to do a report on a book that was about something that really interested me. So I did the first report on baseball. When it came time for me to present it to the class, Mr. Bamick cut me some slack and let me read the report rather than deliver it from memory. Some of my classmates criticized me for the delivery, but Mr. Bamick defended me. By the end of the year I had completed all four of the oral book reports. I wasn't easy or comfortable for me, but I did it.
Years later I realized that Mr. Bamick did me a tremendous favor in sixth grade. One of the opportunities you get when you win a tennis tournament is to make comments to the fans who attend the match. Some of these are carried live on television and all of them are before thousands of people. It's still not one of my favorite things to do, but, with Mr. Bamick's help, I get through it. A few years ago, I was asked to bring my favorite childhood teacher to a national event in Dallas. I was thrilled when Mr. Bamick joined me for the event. It meant a lot to me that he was there.
I went to high school at Long Beach Poly. This is not your typical high school. Sports Illustrated recently noted that more professional athletes have come from Long Beach Poly than any other high school in the country. By the time I reached my high school years, I was ranked number two in tennis in the nation and it was time for me to start giving something back to my community.
When I was a sophomore, I offered to do an instructional tennis clinic for students at Long Beach Poly, and, much to my surprise, they turned me down. I was devastated. At this time, girls were only involved in sport sanctioned by the Girls Athletic Association and those were mostly intramural activities.
Not being one to let things lie, I went to Mrs. Johnson, one of the gym teachers at the school, when I was a senior. She let me plead my case, and right away she understood that what I was offering was not about ego, it was about trying to help others. I ended up doing the clinic and sharing some of my experiences away from Long Beach with several of my fellow students. Now, many years later, the Women's Sports Foundation just introduced a program called GoGirlGo that is designed to get inactive girls active. This program will be very successful, and because several of us at the foundation had experiences similar to mine with Mrs. Johnson, we will work hard to make it a success. Mrs. Johnson gave me the courage to push the envelope when the door looked closed, and she showed me the importance of giving back to those around me.
We all need heroes and "sheroes" ever day in our lives. They can be role models or they can be important anchors in our world. Mrs. Hunter, Mr. Bamick, and Mrs. Johnson believed in me and they helped me to believe in myself. They taught me the importance of continuing to learn something every day and how rewarding it is to help others. These life experiences and lessons are the things that shape us, the things that make us who we are, and the things that, in the end, are truly important.
Page created on 8/11/2014 6:51:42 PM
Last edited 1/6/2017 5:30:17 PM
A role model is a person who inspires and encourages us to strive for greatness, live to our fullest potential and see the best in ourselves. A role model is someone we admire and someone we aspire to be like. We learn through them, through their commitment to excellence and through their ability to make us realize our own personal growth. We look to them for advice and guidance.
A role model can be anybody: a parent, a sibling, a friend but some of our most influential and life-changing role models are teachers.
My Teacher, My Hero
When you think of the type of teacher you'd like to be, who comes to mind? The math teacher that helped you conquer fractions? The English teacher who wrote great comments on your stories? The teacher that helped you discover a new sport, hobby, talent--or maybe even nudged you down your current career path?
Those are the teachers we're celebrating through our YouTube channel, My Teacher, My Hero. Together, we're paying homage to the teachers that have played such an integral part in shaping our lives, and to their importance in shaping the next generation of educators.
“When the student is ready, the teacher appears.” — Marlene Canter, My Teacher My Hero
Teachers follow students through each pivotal stage of development. At six to eight hours a day, five days a week, you as a teacher are poised to become one of the most influential people in your students’ life. After their parents, children will first learn from you, their elementary school teacher. Then, as a middle school teacher, you will guide students through yet another important transition: adolescence. As children become young adults, learning throughout middle school and into high school, you will answer their questions, listen to their problems and teach them about this new phase of their lives. You not only watch your students grow you help them grow.
“We think of teacher-heroes that taught us the academics but we don’t often think of those teachers that taught us life’s lessons.” — Maria Wale, My Teacher My Hero
Much of what students learn from their greatest teachers is not detailed on a syllabus. Teachers who help us grow as people are responsible for imparting some of life’s most important lessons. During their initial school years, students encounter, perhaps for the first time, other children of the same age and begin to form some of their first friendships. As a teacher, you will show your students how to become independent and form their own relationships, you will carefully guide them and intervene when necessary. School is as much a place of social learning as academic learning, and this is true, not only in our early years of education, but all the way through college. Though a teacher’s influence on the social sphere of school lessens as students mature, those early lessons still have an effect on how they will interact with others in the future.
Teachers are founts of experience. They have already been where their students are going, undergone what they will go through and are in a position to pass along lessons, not only regarding subject matter, but lessons on life.
Meet Great Teachers
Teach.com has been speaking with award-winning teachers from across the country to hear their stories and, hopefully, find out a bit about what it is exactly that makes them great. If you are currently a teacher or thinking about becoming a teacher, take a look at some of the Teacher Profiles below to learn a bit more about what can make a teacher great.
Here's how: Take a video of yourself discussing your favorite teacher. You can use the below prompts to get your wheels turning.
1. Choose an example of how your teacher changed your way of thinking or acting.
Did your teacher encourage you to take risks? To overcome self-defeating thoughts or behavior? Did he or she help you speak up more in class, or have more patience with solving problems?
2. Tell us how these changes have influenced your life's direction.
Did they help you uncover a unique talent, or steer you away from a dangerous life path? How did this change your eventual direction in life?
3. Share an interesting story.
Sometimes actions speak louder than words. And your story doesn't have to be serious! A teacher's impact often shines through the most.
And of course, remember to say thank you! Click to watch the rest of the My Teacher, My Hero series on YouTube