Teachers have one of the most important jobs on the planet – passing knowledge, wisdom, and character to the next generation. And we are so grateful for the personal impacts that teachers have had on each of our lives. That’s why we want to pay tribute to some of our favorite teachers today on Teacher Appreciation Week.
As book lovers and literature enthusiasts, we wouldn’t be who we are today without the encouragement and guidance of our teachers. So without further ado, here are some of the Chasers’ top teacher stories:
Like nearly all humans who go on to major in English, I had a great relationship with my high school English teachers. My sophomore English teacher was a full John Keating-type (which fits my town’s vibe since, coincidentally, I went to high school down the road from the where the actual “John Keating” taught.) He was all sorts of unconventional, trying to inspire us to debate our opinions and enjoy Things Fall Apart and really ~reach our potential~. There might have been desk-standing involved. He had these huge shelves in his classroom that essentially acted as his own personal library, and it’s through that library that I discovered some literary gems like My Name is Asher Lev and the life-shattering The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. I might not have ever forgiven him for Edgar, but I appreciate his dedication and passion for the written word.
My high school English teacher, Mrs. Baker was the true MVP. There are multiple reasons why she rocked as a teacher and a human being, but here are a few:
- She taught me to think critically. I know that seems like a skill you should acquire before 16 YEARS on this earth, but I’m not sure if I ever really did before she came into my life. She forced her students to see past the surface and look at the layers behind the books we were reading – little did I know that this skill would translate into thinking critically about all things, not just literature (and sometimes really boring literature, I’m looking at you, The Scarlet Letter).
- She really believed in her students and would literally call you ON THE PHONE and congratulate you for doing well on a test. Let me tell you, nothing felt better than playing a voicemail from Mrs. Baker in front of your parents, raising a victorious eyebrow, and being like “I’m not as dumb as you thought I was, HAHA!”
- She was totally a low-key rebel: we had uniforms at our school and she thought uniforms are dumb. She also thought it was hypocritical that the teachers didn’t have to wear them. So, she wore our school uniform to school every day, not as a way of agreeing with the system, but as a way to give a little protest at the authority every. Single. Day. Like, she was saying, “Isn’t it silly that I wear the same thing every day? Oh wait, you make these kids do it, too.” True MVP, like I said.
Today, I salute you, Mrs. Baker.
I have been privileged enough to have had many wonderful teachers throughout my schooling. But the teacher who introduced me to one of my favorite books was Mrs. Deborah Broyles. Her classroom was the most desired hangout spot of anywhere in school. The fact that she didn’t use overhead lights and instead kept the environment very cozy and welcoming was a big draw to many students. But perhaps even more than the ambiance of the room, her unabashed, unconditional, but tough love for all students no matter their demeanor or background made her classroom feel like a safe place.
Mrs. Broyles introduced me to The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy. It was required reading for one of the classes I wasn’t in, so I didn’t need to read it. She recommended it to me anyway. And I totally fell in love. I shared this book with my piano teacher at the time—who also loved reading and would give me recommendations all the time. She read it, loved it, and now as an author herself has written a dystopian, gender-swapped version—Rook by Sharon Cameron. So, Mrs. Broyles you can partially take credit for a published book, too!
But really. Who wouldn’t love a book that is essentially James Bond during the French Revolution with a searing love story thrown in for good measure? If you haven’t read it, do it. And if you don’t love it, don’t tell me.
To all my teachers who encouraged me and loved on this nerd, thank you. And especially to Mrs. Broyles, not only for your book recommendations, but for the impact you made on me and many others as a teacher.
From my yoga-doing, cool-as-a-cucumber freshman English teacher who let me bring in a massive diorama of Animal Farm that I made for a project to the slightly nerdy and incredibly intelligent teacher whose encouragement was the only thing that got me through our assigned reading of Crime and Punishment, I’ve had some pretty memorable teachers. However, I’d have to give the most influential high school teacher title to my Junior Year AP English instructor, Mrs. Beaty.
Not only was Mrs. Beaty a gem of a human being for her kind demeanor, but she was the epitome of the “though she be but small, she is fierce” teacher. She was bold and captivating as she commanded the classroom with passion and resolution. She challenged me to see past my initial reaction to a book to the implications, themes, and motivations of the author. I read some of my first “serious adult books” like Angela’s Ashes and A Thousand Splendid Suns from her summer reading list. I did my first “serious” writing in her class, when I was assigned a mini-memoir and ended up writing twice as much as the required amount. Mrs. Beaty is the one who told me I was a talented writer and spurred my desire to communicate through writing in a way that I never have been able to do by talking.
So, thank you, Mrs. Beaty. And to all the other teachers who ever encouraged me to shine: know you are making a difference in lives every single day.
Who were your favorite teachers? Tell us in the comments! And be sure to thank the influential teachers in your life this Teacher Appreciation Week!
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Page Chaser is operated by HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc., a subsidiary of HarperCollins Publishing, Inc., the publisher of The Story or Edgar Sawtelle, The Scarlet Letter, and The Scarlet Pimpernel.