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The first week of May is Teacher Appreciation Week, and this year the team at PCS Edventures is sharing some of our favorite memories with teachers we’ve had in the past! It's just one way we're thanking educators who pour countless hours of hard work into helping their students succeed for little in return.
Check out these heartfelt stories. Then share your own in the comments below or tag us on social media!
In 6th grade with Mr. Johnson, we created water rockets out of recycled materials. The class took a trip to the recycling center, we gathered liter bottles to serve as the rocket's body, and cardboard to craft fins and cones for the rocket. With a bike-pump and a cork, you filled the rocket half-full with water, then pumped air into the rocket until the pressure pushed the cork free, launching the rocket.
It was an incredible moment for my early STEM career, not only showing what was possible with a small amount of air pressure but how recycled materials could be incorporated into something so fun. I will always remember the joy of launching my recycled rocket over and over again.
I have very fond memories of several elementary school teachers. The most compelling one comes from my 3rd grade teacher, Eloida. She was humble, kind, patient, and encouraging. She saw the best in every student. She loved numbers and had a knack for teaching math through a series of games, many of which included a baggie of beans she distributed at the beginning of the school year. The beans were used for addition, subtraction, division, multiplication and as payment in our fictitious global classroom market. Ms. Eloida made learning so much fun.
When I was 15 years old I had an opportunity to interview for a job with the local eye doctor. On the day of the interview, I wore dress clothes to school so I could go straight from school to the interview. When I walked into my shop class, my teacher immediately noticed and asked me what the special occasion was. I told him I had a job interview after school. After he got the class started, he sent everyone to the shop to work on their projects and asked me to stay in the classroom for a moment.
He then spent the next 25 minutes giving me a mock job interview. He didn't have to take the time to coach me through an interview, but he did. I didn't even need to ask! Needless to say, I worked for the eye doctor for the next three years until I graduated high school.
During high school, my English teacher had the class choose a book from her list, analyze the literary concepts, and create a presentation with props. To make the project more engaging, she added a theme each year, and ours was sci-fi. I asked if I could read a book that wasn’t on the list, That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis, and she agreed.
So with the help of my best friend at the time, I crafted a zombie head with tubes coming out of it leading into jars of food-colored water for my project. I analyzed and connected to the text better than almost any other literary project I’d done prior. It’s moments like these that developed my love for reading and writing.
In highschool, I was a part of the track and field team and competed in both shot put and discus. In my junior year, I didn't make the cut to go to states and was devastated. When senior year rolled around I had one goal in mind — GET. TO. STATES. That season was my most competitive season yet, but I was one meet away from accomplishing my goal. When it was finally my turn to throw at the last meet of the season, I was so nervous. My first two throws were ok, but not enough to get qualified. I had one throw left. My last throw was the best I had thrown all season, but just as I watched it land out in the field I lost my balance and fell over the line, disqualifying that throw. My best throw of the season, the throw that got me qualified for states, and I got disqualified. I was heartbroken.
Fast forward through a lot of tears and sadness, and it was time for my team to fly off to states. That morning, my parents woke me up and said I had a visitor waiting. It was my coach. He stopped by my house with just our throwing team... He pulled out a plane ticket with my name on it and said "Pack your bags kid, you're going to states." He told me that states just wouldn't be the same without me there. It was because of him that I made it to states, and I'll never forget how he made me feel.
The teacher who always stands out to me is Mr. Geren, my high school science research teacher. He took on creating a STEM elective course to help us prepare for the local science fair. (As a former teacher, I now appreciate how much of a passion project that must have been.) My friend and I designed a device to decode chicken vocalizations and, with Mr. Geren's encouragement, ended up making it to the national science fair. Before that, I'd never considered a career in STEM. I ended up majoring in Animal Science and still dabble in poultry husbandry.
I have two... teachers are a pretty big deal.
One warm and sunny day in September, 1977, I don't remember where I was, but I knew teachers were a gift from God. Mrs. Clam, first grade teacher at Monroe Elementary School in beautiful Boise, Idaho, had taken her class to a farm to make ice cream. I don't know if it was her farm, I can't remember what flavor the ice cream was, but her generosity, personal connection, and commitment to my learning inspired me to a lifetime love of learning ... and goats.
As with all kids, my early school experiences shaped my natural inclination into skills that would serve me for a lifetime. My mom taught me the abc's. My Dad taught me numbers. I remember sitting down at the kitchen table when I was about 9 with my older brothers to do homework. I was a second grader, so I didn't really have math homework yet. My brothers were 11 and 12 years old, so even their math homework was minimal.
That didn't discourage my father. He would pull out his old math books. He would ask us everyday questions like, how tall is the maple tree in the front yard? How far away is the cabin? How long does it take to walk to school? How much time and gas do we need to harvest the grain? What is the chance I can flip a penny and get 5 heads in a row? How much pie do you three want?
He would give us a few facts, a few variables, and explain how to find the answers. We spent hours at that kitchen table. We were always challenging each other to answer questions about things we needed to know in everyday life; problem solving. I later learned it was called geometry, trigonometry and algebra. Now we are engineers and accountants. My father was a math teacher at Boise High School.
We'd love to hear your favorite teacher stories. Leave a comment below, or tag us on social media @PCSedventures (@PCSed on Facebook).
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