By Donna Krache, CNN
(CNN) – In the 1980s, when I stepped in front of my first class of high school students, we didn’t worry about attacks on schools. The phrase “school shooting” was not part of the education lexicon. The tragedy at Columbine High School was years in the future.
There was no Internet and no cellphones, a time most of today’s students would think was hundreds of years ago.
And yet, something that my first principal said about teaching still rings true today.
“No matter what some people will tell you,” he said, “anyone who is in teaching is in it for the kids.”
The teachers I know are certainly not in it for the money, nor the accolades, nor – despite what some believe – the two months off in the summer. That’s when many teachers find second jobs to make ends meet until they can return to their classrooms.
They’re in it in part because of a passion for a subject and for knowledge and they want to pass that love of history, or science, or math to the next generation.
But more importantly, they are in it for the kids.
(CNN) - Fourth-grade teacher by day, adjunct professor and mother by night, Renee Longshore keeps a strict budget and pulls a second income all in the name of teaching.
With her husband's two jobs - he's also a fourth-grade teacher and an adjunct professor - the master's-educated couple makes four incomes. But, money is tight for this family of six.
While Longshore's passion for teaching children helps her overlook her modest life, she sometimes resents her job. She feels under-appreciated by parents at times and like her profession isn't respected.
"My paycheck does not reflect my expertise," she wrote on CNN iReport. "The minimal esteem shown is not warranted, considering my formal schooling and experience. ... But I teach, because that is who I am."
Despite administration frustrations and poor classroom conditions - and for Chicago teachers, a weeklong strike - why do they do it?
By the Schools of Thought editors, CNN
(CNN)– Editor's note: CNN's Schools of Thought and CNN Student News asked our audiences to send us iReports during National Teacher Appreciation Week. Here are some of the best submissions we received. Enjoy!
Students in Mr. Balch's world geography class in Allen, Texas say they learn a lot from his teaching.
Faith and Parker want to thank Mrs. Bachman for pushing them into working hard.
Fayetteville, Arkansas junior Madison expresses appreciation for her history teacher, Ms. Burnett.
Veronica studied in the Philippines and says that Miss Manal, and Miss Regner inspired her to learn science and Filipino at school, while Miss Umlas and Miss Palabrica are excellent teachers who Veronica has met online.
One of Mr. Peterson's students says he's awesome.
Cody expresses his appreciation for his homeroom teacher, Mrs. Clapham.
Mrs. Thompson's student sent in her teacher appreciation iReport from Minot, North Dakota.
St. Simons Island, Georgia teacher Mrs. Murray "is always there for you and never lets you down," according to one of her students.
Frau Feiter is one Oshkosh, Wisconsin student's favorite teacher.
Jaiyah's favorite teacher is Ms. Marker because she teaches science.
by Sarah Springer, CNN
(CNN) During Teacher Appreciation week, the ladies of ABC shows “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal” spoke a little bit about the teachers that impacted
their lives the most.
Chandra Wilson, who plays Dr. Miranda Bailey on “Grey’s Anatomy”, told CNN her favorite teacher taught her to believe in her abilities, while television writer and series creator, Shonda Rhimes, told CNN about a teacher who made her look forward to the future.
“Her name is Mrs. Hanks. She taught 5th grade,” said Rhimes. “We watched Luke and Laura’s wedding on ‘General Hospital’ in her classroom one day after school when I had to stay after school waiting for my mom to pick me up. We closed all of the blinds and watched Luke and Laura get married, which was very serious for me.”
However, it wasn’t the show that made Rhimes think about her future, it was her teacher’s youthful nature and ability to make her students care.
By Ashley Strickland, CNN
Editor’s note: In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week this week, we’re asking our colleagues at CNN to share their stories of teachers who have inspired them. Ashley Strickland is an associate producer at CNN.com.
In high school, I had the incomparable luck to learn from the Prince of Pertinence, the Sultan of Segue, the Allusion King, God of Softball and a Hell-of-a-Guy – altogether known as the Venerable Mr. Friedman.
From the first moment I set foot in his classroom that first day of sophomore year in high school, I knew it was something from a dream – not what most high schoolers imagine walking into second period English class.
The classroom was packed to the brim with allusions, from a handmade poster of Walt Whitman’s “O Captain! My Captain” over the doorway to little bits of parchment taped to the walls, all bearing quotes from a certain Mr. Friedman.
They said things like “All you can do is all you can do” and “Thou shalt striveth to be a hell of a guy in all facets of thy life.” The ceiling tiles were painted with scenes from Shakespearean plays and song lyrics from the 1960s.
The tall, impressive gentleman sat at his desk, excitement catching in his eyes as he read each student passing through the door like a new book. He carried a gentle smile but a purposeful posture, and sported a shirt and tie that wouldn’t dare wrinkle.
He began by saying, “In your life, you will probably have five memorable teachers who have impacted you in some way. I am one of those teachers.”
By Bryan Toussaint, CNN
Editor’s note: In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week this week, we’re asking our colleagues at CNN to share their stories of teachers who have inspired them. Bryan Toussaint is an associate producer at CNN.com.
I hated high school, or maybe I simply hated adolescence. I found the years between ages 15 and 18 particularly annoying and inconvenient. It was a lot like walking through the security at the airport. Most of us would like to avoid the procedure but going through the experience is the only way to get you closer to where you want to go.
Fortunately, my 11th and 12th grade English teachers, Ms. Kappel and Ms. King, were there to make the adolescence experience a bit more tolerable. They introduced me to Bigger Thomas, Ralph Ellison's invisible man, Holden Caulfield, Basil Duke Lee and other characters that would serve as my surrogate friends.
Many of these characters dealt with the same coming of age issues I faced at that time. Ms. Kappel and Ms. King taught me how to appreciate great literature and through those book reports taught me how to organize my thoughts, how to be a more critical thinker. I'll readily admit that “Invisible Man”, “Native Son” and “The Catcher in theRye” were part of the curriculum. But I most appreciated the books and short stories they recommended I read outside of what was required, particularly the works of F. Scott Fitzgerald. I thank Ms. King for that.
by John Martin, CNN
(CNN) - Actresses Cierra Ramirez, Scarlett Johansson and Eva Mendes recently talked to CNN about some of their favorite teachers. Ramirez said that she appreciates Ms. Sloat for helping Ramirez get through math. Scarlett Johansson said that her 6th grade teacher, Ms. Grossman, helped Johansson develop her conscience and her imagination. Eva Mendes shared a story about lunches with Ms. Prizowski. Mendes also thanked Prizowski for encouraging her.
Ramirez and Mendes star in the film "Girl in Progress", which opens Friday. Johansson received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on May 2 and is currently featured in "The Avengers" movie.
By Scott Burkey, CNN
Editor’s Note: In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week this week, we’re asking our colleagues at CNN to share their stories of teachers who have inspired them. Scott Burkey is a senior project manager at CNN.
(CNN) - We moved several times when I was in junior high and high school. Each time was more difficult than before. The first time we moved I was 12 and I remember the process of “checking out” of school in the middle of the day before we moved. What happened to me on that one day when I was 12 has had such an impact on me that I’m still talking about it three decades later.
One of the teachers at my junior high school was a geography teacher named Bill Wheaton. I thought it was cool that Mr. Wheaton was missing part of one of his fingers. I imagined it to have been lost in a grizzly battle in Vietnam or in a knife fight with a vicious street gang. I spent many classes daydreaming about how Mr. Wheaton had defended a whole town against invading forces and lost part of his finger in the bloody battle that ensued. It’s silly now to think back about it. But it’s okay because I’m not an overly-serious person.
What Mr. Wheaton did for me wasn’t just in providing daydream material but it was a decision he made on my last day in that small junior high school in the early 1980’s. He made a decision that took him two minutes to make and that impacted my life for many years.
By Elizabeth Landau, CNN
Editor’s Note: In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week this week, we’re asking our colleagues at CNN to share their stories of teachers who have inspired them. Elizabeth Landau is a writer/producer for CNN.com.
Last week, on the occasion of my 10th high school reunion, I caught up with some of the teachers who motivated me to become a better thinker and more confident person over the years. But the science corridor of the Shipley School in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania held a special sadness for me as I thought about a teacher who is no longer there, and to whom I would love to be able to say: “Guess what? I write about science for CNN!”
When I was 16, I had no idea what I was getting into when I signed up for physics with Charles Owen – I’d merely chosen it over biology for my junior-year science elective because the idea of frog dissections grossed me out. But physics felt natural to me, and exciting. Dr. Owen explained, with demonstrations and thoughtful diagrams, how aspects of the universe such as momentum, acceleration and gravity could be described with formulas. I was simply amazed that, in the absence of air (in a vacuum), a feather and a bowling ball would fall at exactly the same speed, and that I could use an equation to prove it.
Just when I felt comfortable with the year’s material, Dr. Owen approached me to ask if I wanted to take Physics B Advanced Placement exam. This seemed outrageous at first – his course was not specifically geared toward any standardized test preparation. But he assured me that if I read a few additional textbook chapters on my own, and met with him a several times after school, I would be fine. It was the first time I’d undertaken a real “independent study.” I enjoyed having one-on-one discussions with Dr. Owen about everything from relativity to circuits.
By Simit Shah, CNN
Editor’s Note: In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week this week, we’re asking our colleagues at CNN to share their stories of teachers who have inspired them. Simit Shah is a technical consultant at CNN.
When you’re 12 years old, you do what you’re told, and you pretty much believe what you’re told.
From the point where I could start writing complete sentences in elementary school, I was told that I wasn’t especially good at it. While I loved to read, especially anything involving the Hardy Boys or the sports section in the morning newspaper, my talents clearly resided in the realm of math and science.
So I came to accept this as fact with little to no power to change my path in life. I never questioned or challenged it; some people are good writers, and I wasn’t one of those people.
All that changed my first day of Mrs. Sallie Rainwater’s seventh grade English class at Marietta (Georgia) Junior High. I was fully prepared to accept that I’d muddle through another year of the standard book reports, spelling quizzes and sentence diagrams.
However, Mrs. Rainwater instead announced that we’d spend an entire year focused on writing – letters, short stories, poems. My heart sunk when I heard this, thinking that my chances at squeaking out an "A" were now slim to none.
I plotted ways to weasel out of this predicament, even requesting to switch to a traditional class, but Mrs. Rainwater would have none of that. As the year progressed, she pushed, prodded and challenged me to overcome my fears.