“A great teacher is a key to success.” —Jon Hamm
One of the greatest contributions that teachers make is nurturing life-long learners and positive contributor to society. Success takes years to develop and teachers often don’t see the fruits of their labor. However, like us at Gradeable, some people took time to acknowledge the teachers who helped build the solid foundation that made their success possible. Here are some successful people on the teachers who most inspired them.
Andrew Motion, former poet laureate, on getting the gift of life
My background was very unbookish, and there was absolutely no expectation from my family of my ever reading very much or even writing anything. I wanted to birdwatch and be left alone. Then I was taught English by Peter Way (Mr Way to me), and it was as though he walked into my head and turned all the lights on.
He manifested in everything he said and did that poems were not a strange addition to life, but a part of it. And that is one of the great lessons of my life. He didn’t know he was doing this, but he gave me my life.
Deborah Moggach, author, on getting treated like an adult
My most inspiring teacher was my English teacher [Margot Heinemann] at Camden school for girls… Camden girls were famously grownup anyway, alarmingly so, but she seemed to take that for granted even more than the other staff. She introduced us to The Waste Land, to books outside the curriculum, and somehow to life itself, with all its tragedy as well as its possibilities.
Jean Hammond, angel investor, on the confidence to learn
“There have been a lot of them, but one in particular was my 7th grade science teacher, Mr. Hutton. In 7th grade, science is pretty general—and each topic is more interesting than the thing before it. Mr. Hutton was very brave about teaching us a whole range of things, and empowering us to new things. In 7th grade, I thought that teaching was something I could do because he made learning exciting. Also, it was another penny on the confidence scale. I could learn a lot of different things and gained confidence to continue learning. Now, as an angel investor, I learn about completely different companies all the time—and that desire to learn started back in 7th grade science.
Kamila Shamsie, novelist, on learning how to feel comfortable being wrong
Through much of my childhood in Karachi I was painfully insecure. In classrooms, when the teacher asked a question, I’d never raise my hand because I’d worry I was wrong. All this changed in class five when Mrs Rehman was my class teacher. I still don’t know how she did it – but in the kindness of her manner, in a certain way she had of asking a question and then looking directly at me as though to say, “Go on, speak up: if you’re wrong, that’s OK,” she made me feel confident. It’s not that I started to believe I always had the right answers; instead I came to see that not knowing the right answers wasn’t such a problem. From Mrs Rehman I learnt to feel more comfortable in my own skin.
Shelton Quarles, linebacker, on being a whole person
“[Ms. Joan Woods] took a vested interest in me as a person and not an athlete. She inspired me to be the best that I could be in the classroom and that would translate to me being a better player on the football field. Ultimately, her instruction allowed me to take tougher honors classes in high school, which in turn prepared me to be a good student at Vanderbilt University, one of the most prestigious universities in the country.”
Ginny Brown-Waite, former US representative, on learning being free
“[Mrs. Stapleton’s] lesson was that just because you were poor didn’t mean that you couldn’t learn.”
Mike Enzi, US senator, on the importance of proving even obvious things
“[Mr. Charles W. Popovich] explained that geometry would probably be the only logic class we would take. He showed us the importance of being able to prove even obvious things. He showed an enthusiasm that was catching and an ability to know when every student in the class had caught onto each concept and could build on it. He still occasionally sends me a challenging question.”
Finally, Mr. Rawley Farnsworth, Tom Hanks’ high school drama teacher reminds us all why teachers are so inspirational.
Gradeable was developed to give teachers more time to inspire their students. Find out more at www.gradeable.com.