She Pushed Me Out of the Nest
I’m a teacher because of LaVone Holt. She took
me under her wing and taught me journalism
and English over four years of high school, but
her greatest contribution to my life came on a
visit I made to her AP English classroom during
spring break from college. She asked what I was
studying, and when I said Heart of Darkness
by Joseph Conrad, she announced to the class,
“Tim is going to teach you today.” Then she sat
down. I was stunned, but I stumbled through
a quick overview of the themes, drew a rough
map on the chalkboard, and answered questions from the students. At the end of the
period, Mrs. Holt assigned an essay based on
my lesson. As I left the room, I knew that I was
born to be a teacher.
—Timothy Dohrer, director,
Master of Science in Education program,
Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois
He Cheered Me On Through College
“You can and you will go to college—and I
will help you make it happen.” These words
were spoken to me nearly 50 years ago by my
economics teacher, D. J. Harris. Born into a
working-class family with no women ever
attending college, I seriously doubted his
words. I believed I had no tools to even begin
the journey. Mr. Harris helped me dream,
apply, write the essays, and win scholarships.
He also followed my progress all four years,
cheering me on and offering advice. Until he
died, he remained a guiding force in my professional life. If he were still alive today, I would
share with him how I have passed it on, helping
first-generation kids get into college and fulfill
gifted and talented coordinator,
School District of South Milwaukee, Wisconsin
She Supported Me in Tough Times
Mrs. Harvey, my 6th grade teacher, made every
student feel like the most important person in
the room. Because my parents were divorcing,
we were living in a poor area of the school district that some wrote off as non-college-bound.
I had a brother who got into trouble and had
to spend some time at Boys Town in Omaha.
When I wrote about my feelings, Mrs. Harvey
was moved to tears and said she couldn’t wait
to meet my brother when he came home for a
visit. Mrs. Harvey nurtured the human spirit,
and she made me want to achieve more than
my circumstances would predict at the time.
I felt that she really listened when I told her
about my parents’ divorce or about taking
care of my grandfather because my mom was
working two jobs.
Although I’m soon to enter my 60s, Mrs.
Harvey is still a part of my life. She stays in
contact via phone calls and Facebook. She
showed up at the visiting hours for my mother
10 years ago, offering the same kind words
and loving hugs that gave support to a young
student who needed them so many years before.
—Judi Mireles, school counselor,
Des Moines Public Schools, Iowa
She Shared the Adventure of Learning
Grade 2 . . . Mrs. Carver . . . 1969. During
breaks and vacations, she would travel and
return with remarkable trinkets to show us.
Once she brought a necklace made from a
shark’s tooth and then read a poem about
sharks. (We lived five hours from the ocean,
and many of us had never visited there.) She
taught us that when we learn, we can travel
anywhere we want to imagine.
—Tom Yarber, professional tutor,
Central Virginia Community College,
The Teacher Who Made the Difference
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