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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    A teacher’s importance merits greater gratitude

    During my freshman year of high school, I hated science. I lived in constant dread of the 44-minute class. But when I was forced to attend after-school help sessions by my parents, I would strike up a conversation with my teacher, Mr. Rouen. To my surprise, I found he was genuinely interested in my life and what I had to say. Gradually, I found his class more enjoyable. I started listening more and, in turn, started doing better. He became my most influential teacher.

    Naturally, I am not the only one with an influential teacher story. Millions of people across the country have been inspired by teachers in their school. A small nonprofit organization called StoryCorps is asking to hear those stories. By conducting interviews between students and their influential teachers, StoryCorps is trying to thank those teachers who have changed the lives of students for the better.

    Founded in 2003, StoryCorps attempts to “provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share and preserve the story of our lives.” The group conducts and records interviews in which it hosts a 40-minute conversation between participants — in this case, students and teachers. Thus far, it has recorded more than 30,000 conversations that are saved in the Library of Congress for future generations to learn about their ancestors firsthand.

    In attempting to thank teachers this year, StoryCorps is trying to show that amid the talk of education reform, there are still teachers out there who inspire and change students’ lives.

    Due to the amount of time we spend in school, teachers have an enormous impact on us. We have all had our fair share of both excellent and terrible teachers. They have the power to inspire passion and at the same time, can turn us away from a subject forever. Education reform has been directing its attention toward bad teachers, and reasonably so. But it’s high time that teachers be graded, rewarded and admired for how well they teach.

    Good teachers devote their lives to their students. They grade for hours on end, they spend hours on lesson plans and agonize when their students don’t understand the material. Teachers can change lives, but, for some reason, we undervalue one of the most impactful professions we have.

    People don’t become teachers for money (ask any of them and they’ll tell you that) and they don’t teach for the respect of society (because they hardly get it). Good teachers devote time and effort to their students to have an impact on a future generation. They are constantly committing themselves to the youth of America in the hopes of creating a better future.

    Teachers have given so much to us. We owe them something back. Just one word can make a difference. Letting a teacher know that they are appreciated, that the hours of work that they put into the classroom wasn’t wasted, might just make their life’s work a little bit more worthwhile.

    Approach your favorite professor after class. Send an email to a grade school teacher who you still cherish years later. Just take five minutes out of your day to say thank you; it really is the least you could do.

    — Dan Desrochers is a chemistry freshman. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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