To celebrate National Teacher Day, the TED-Ed staff took a moment to reflect on the teachers that shaped us. Who were some of the educators that really had a lasting impact on our lives — and why? Find out below!
My fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Chapman, had a huge influence on my life. She worked extremely hard to make sure that every student in her class knew it was okay (and in fact good) to be passionate about and interested in lots and lots of things. My particular passions at the time were hobbits, marbles and ancient Egypt. We weren’t exactly covering those topics in class, so she easily could have told me to “stay on task,” but instead she carved out time in our next visit to the school library to help me find a book that related to each topic. It’s impossible to describe exactly what I learned in her class, but whatever it is, I’m certain that I use it every single day.
— Logan Smalley, Director of TED-Ed
One teacher who had a strong influence on my life was my second grade teacher, Mrs. Schrittwieser. She was incredibly kind to me on my first day at a new elementary school and took the time to make sure I felt comfortable in the school. The moment that stands out for me is when she asked another student (who ended up being one of my first friends at that school) to take me around and give me a tour.
— Stephanie Lo, Director of TED-Ed Programs
My high school science teacher, Mr. Roberts, had a big impact on my life when he stood up for rational thought. By teaching evolution without wasting classroom time on Biblical creationism and intelligent design, he showed me that good science education is worth fighting for — and that it is possible to keep church and state separate in U.S. public schools. By offering extra credit to any students who turned in research papers on creationism and intelligent design in the context of the world’s many other religious beliefs, he encouraged all of us to stay curious and keep learning.
— Laura McClure, TED-Ed Editor
One teacher who strongly influenced my life was John Leistler, because of his genuine, infectious enthusiasm for art history, not to mention teaching, learning and exploring. I’ll never forget his Snake Goddess impression — an ululation and gestural evocation of this statue.
— Alex Rosenthal, TED-Ed Editorial Producer
My high school English teacher, Veronica Stephenson, had a big impact on my life. While she was undoubtedly an excellent English teacher, she sculpted me most through her unyielding support of my intense (and somewhat abnormal for my zip code) love of theater and the performing arts. As my school’s drama club advisor, she gave me countless remarkable opportunities not only to perform, but to really explore season curation, scenic design and more. Had she not identified and nurtured this passion in me, I don’t know if I would have had the confidence to pursue it. Those teachers who really take the time to get to know their students and help them grow are rare, but she was one of them. Thanks, Veronica!
— Emilie Soffe, TED-Ed Editorial Coordinator
My educational decisions and career path were strongly influenced by Dean Elmore, Boston University’s Dean of Students. The moment that stands out for me is when he sat me down and told me what he believed to be the value of a liberal arts education. This sparked my interest in higher education, student involvement and the meaning of a college education.
— Caroline Cristal, TED-Ed Programs Coordinator
One educator who had a big influence on my life was my 12th grade English teacher, because she inspired me to always strive for more, but to have a critical eye for the world around me. The moment that stands out for me is when she had us participate in Socratic discussions about Kate Chopin’s Awakening.
— Tristine Baccam, TED-Ed Special Projects Coordinator
My sixth grade teacher, Ms. Jean DeSimone, had a powerful impact on my life. When I wrote out my sentences for our weekly vocabulary words, I made every single sentence about monkeys. Rather than tell me to do it over and take it seriously, she encouraged me to be creative in my weird way and keep relating every single vocabulary word to monkeys.
— Noah Tavlin, TED-Ed Animation Production Intern
Ready to reflect on the teachers who’ve impacted your life? Take a 5-minute break and try this TED-Ed writing prompt. Then share your response in the comments:
One teacher who had a particularly strong influence on my life was _________, because ______. The moment that stands out for me is when ____________.