What or who inspired you to become a teacher?

Another question that is often asked when someone finds out you want to be a teacher is “What or who inspired you to become a teacher?” This is probably easier to answer than why someone wants to be a teacher. The “who” or “what” which inspired someone is often part of the reason why someone wants to be a teacher.

The teachers who have had the most influence on me in becoming a teacher is my 4th grade teacher at Tulakes Elementary School (Oklahoma City, OK), Mrs. Lunsford; my 10-12th grade speech and debate coach, Mrs. Ferguson; and my 9th grade Physical Science and 12th grade Physiology teacher, Mr. (now Dr.) Wentroth, both at Putnam City High School in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Each of these teachers impacted me in different ways and influenced my decision to become a teacher.

Mrs. Lunsford was a great teacher. I can’t exactly nail down why I thought she was so great. But I do know that I visited her off and on all the way up to about 1993 when I was 26, so almost twenty years. She was sweet, very nice, and very encouraging in every area. When I first met her I was a new student transferring from a sister elementary school to Tulakes Elementary. My mom, unbeknownst to me, specifically requested Mrs. Lunsford. Mrs. Lunsford didn’t know why at the time, just that she had a new student whose mother had requested her. I arrived in her classroom and was very shy and very introverted. By the time I left her classroom, she had brought me out of a shell and encouraged me in every way. I felt she paid particular attention to me. At the same time she was not lax. She had standards and she ensured you met them through instruction and encouragement. She made me realize that teaching could inspire young minds to grow and change.

Mrs. Ferguson. Wow. So many things can be said about her. I contacted her for the first time a few years ago and she vaguely remembered me. It had been over twenty years since I had last seen her. I was an example of a student she didn’t realize she had a positive impact on at the time. I don’t think I was one of her favorite students. I wasn’t completely committed to speech and debate, there were other students who were more dedicated. But what she taught me was through her passion for the subject. She loved speech and debate. She loved talking about the topics and about students’ projects. She had a very laissez faire atmosphere in the classroom. I actually thrived in that environment. The excitement and the energy were palatable before and during a tournament. It’s that excitement and love for subject that I hope to bring to my classroom.

Mr. (Dr.) Wentroth. Smile. In a word? Compassion. He showed how to have humor and compassion in a classroom. I can remember in 9th grade having sword fights with him using wooden pointers. I can remember getting the whole class together throwing wadded up paper balls at him en masse. He took it all well and threw them back. I couldn’t stand science (still can’t), but he brought humor to the classroom and made the subject tolerable. He also showed compassion. He showed compassion to me when I really didn’t deserve it. It was my senior year and I had to pass his class to graduate or I would have had to go to summer school. I passed his class and got to graduate. The things he taught me are humor and compassion and to bring them into the classroom.

These are the people who inspired me to become a teacher and in part I suppose it answers why I want to become a teacher.

Who were the teachers that inspired you, why and do you incorporate anything they did in your classroom?


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