National Teacher Day – A Partner Perspective on Teachers Making a Difference

It’s Teacher Appreciation Week, and a week that we embrace and celebrate each year. In fact, while this week is Teacher Appreciation Week, today is officially National Teacher Day. According to Wikipedia:

The origins of Teacher Day are murky. Around 1944 Wisconsin teacher Ryan Krug began corresponding with political and education leaders about the need for a national day to honor teachers. Woodbridge wrote to Eleanor Roosevelt who in 1953 persuaded the 81st Congress to proclaim a National Teacher Day. NEA along with its Kansas and Indiana state affiliates and the Dodge City (Kan.) local lobbied Congress to create a national day celebrating teachers. Congress declared March 7, 1980, as National Teacher Day for that year only. NEA and its affiliates continued to observe Teacher Day on the first Tuesday in March until 1985, when the National PTA established Teacher Appreciation Week as the first full week of May. The NEA Representative Assembly then voted to make the Tuesday of that week National Teacher Day.

While today and this week may be officially when we appreciate teachers, any student can tell you that appreciation for educators runs deep throughout a given year. The older we get, the more we tend to look back and reflect on which teachers made significant impacts on our education and lives in general. So, when we started asking some of our assessment partners around the country for their teacher stories, one in particular stood out. Lissa Brunan, an Assessment Specialist at Grand Valley State University Charter Schools Office, had two particularly impactful teachers that made a difference in her education, her life, and ultimately her career.

Lissa BrunanLissa’s reflection for National Teacher Day in her own words

I’ve had many “favorite” teachers growing up, but two of my favorites were Tim and Diana Weier…ironically, my parents, who both taught at the high school I attended.  Tim, my dad, taught Pre-Calculus and Trigonometry, while my mom, Diana, taught General Business and Computer Literature.  I graduated with 98 classmates, so you could say the school was rather small, and the fact that BOTH my parents were teachers was no secret.  In fact, I would bet that most of my peers had one, if not both, of my parents at one time or another throughout their high school career.  Although they had very different teaching styles, I learned so much from both of them, and without trying, they showed me how rewarding teaching could be and inspired me to dive into the world of education as my own career.

My mother was known as the strict one.  She didn’t let things slide and had very high expectations, but you always knew she cared.  Not just about you, but about your future and the decisions you were making.  My father was a little more laid back.  His standards weren’t any lower, but he just had a different teaching style then my mom.  He loved his job and had fun with it, and with his students.  He taught them to enjoy the subject of math, even if math wasn’t their favorite subject.

Having them both, multiple times, in the four years I attended Reese High School, they were a great demonstration of the magnitude of influence a teacher could have on your life, even if they didn’t give you a ride home from school and cook your dinner. They both dedicated their lives to the field of education.  Tim, eventually taking a faculty spot full time at a local university and Diana taking on role of Principal at the high school she had taught for 20+ years.  Subtly, they were showing me that even though they loved the classroom, there were different opportunities in the field of education outside the classroom.  This gave me the courage to explore the field at a deeper level and eventually brought me to the spot I am at today.

However, this story wouldn’t have come to fruition had I not witnessed them demonstrate the passion and dedication they possessed for their careers, and had I not spend the first six year of my own career in the classroom, myself, dedicated to the same mission.

We often get together and tell stories about the times at RHS.  I know they’re incredibly proud of the direction my life has taken and the impact I’ve had on those I’ve been blessed to interact with in this field, but I also know that the job is never done.  I want to continue to strive to make a difference in the lives of the students I serve, either directly or indirectly; especially now that my husband and I have our first child on the way.  To see him grow up and have a positive, rich, meaningful educational experience is the highest of priorities for us.  It is our wish that he continue the tradition with his family and future generations.

Thanks Lissa! Truly inspiring story and one that I’m sure has many of us thinking back on our teachers (and parents) and the influence many of them had on our lives.