By James Dinan, 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. James Dinan is a copy editor for CNN.com video.
Choosing the one teacher who inspired me the most is difficult, but I wanted to choose an educator who, technically, wasn’t a teacher of mine at all. I never took a class of hers, but I was there for an after-school activity she advised.
My freshman year at Pope John XXIII Regional High School in Sparta, New Jersey, was a lonely one. I was a public school student thrust into the world of itchy uniform slacks, Friday morning Masses and a freshman class made up primarily of strangers.
Trying to find my voice was difficult, but I gave it a try early on. I made the freshman basketball team, but I was more Larry from the Three Stooges than Larry Bird on the court, and I only played when the game was out of reach. Other sports and clubs didn’t interest me at the time – I feared being crushed by the returning upperclassmen, so I didn’t bother trying.
That changed one February morning, when I was called to the principal’s office via the PA system. As I walked down the empty hallway toward Father McHugh’s domain, I wondered what I did to warrant detention. Did I not hold the door for a senior, or did I not get ready for gym class fast enough?
Imagine my surprise when Mrs. Fitzgibbons, an English teacher at the school, greeted me at the front of the office.
“You may be wondering why you were called to the office,” she said. “You’re not in trouble, but I need your help.”
Mrs. “Fitz” explained that she was setting up an Academic Team showdown – think “Jeopardy!” without the budget or studio audience – between members of her Freshman Honors English class and a rival school. I wasn’t in her Honors class, but a few of her students told her that I had to be recruited to join the team, as I had a knack for remembering “odd” things.
I agreed to do it and, the next day, sat down with seven or eight of my fellow Pope John freshmen for practice. For the first time in high school, I felt like I belonged to something. My thirst for knowledge and quick recall of facts came in handy during the scrimmage, as I correctly buzzed in on everything from Shakespeare toDinah Shore (To this day, Mrs. “Fitz” can’t believe I knew who Dinah Shore was. I proudly noted that Shore’s TV shows and music were favorites of my maternal grandmother).
Practice soon turned to the actual showdown, and Pope John handled the High Point “menace” with ease. The match, in term, led to Mrs. “Fitz” inviting me to join the varsity Academic Team next school year, as well as encouragement from classmates to try my hand at debate and mock trial.
I never learned the name of the student or students who urged Mrs. “Fitz” to sign me up, but I thank them for the kind words. As for Mrs. Fitzgibbons, she was the first teacher who encouraged me to break out of my shell and embrace who I am. So what if I’m a tad quirky? I’ve managed to succeed in the game of life and, for that, I have Mrs. “Fitz” to thank.
Here's what the editors of Schools of Thought are reading today about proms:
MetroWest Daily News: Are these prom dresses too hot to trot?
According to a Harvard sociologist, teen fashion may becoming more provocative due to influences like "The Jersey Shore" and Angelina Jolie. However, prom styles may have more to do with school dress codes than social norms.
AZdailysun.com: Home-schoolers don't miss out on prom
The roughly 300,000 home schooled students in Texas miss out on many of America's traditions. Home schooling groups around the state are trying to make sure prom isn't one of them.
Detroit Free Press: Project prom dress: Teen designers get creative with prom dresses made from newspapers
The Detroit Free Press issued a challenge to area high school students – make a prom dress out of the newspaper. Readers can select from eight finalists, and the winner will be awarded $500.
YNN: Johnstown prom tradition a tradition no more
In years past, Johnstown, New York seniors would arrive at prom in front-end loaders, ATV's and even boats. Officials killed the tradition this year out of concern for the students' safety.
Wave3.com: Tim Tebow goes to prom – sort of
On a bet, an Iowa teen asked New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow to her prom through Twitter. When he didn't reply, she brought Tebow anyway – but not in the flesh, a cardboard cutout.
Maurice Sendak, author of the classic children's book "Where the Wild Things Are," died from complications after a stroke on Tuesday, said Erin Crum, a spokeswoman for HarperCollins Publishers.
Sendak illustrated nearly 100 books during a 60-year career, winning dozens of accolades as he endeared himself to generations of children reared on his fanciful stories. One critic called him "the Picasso of children's literature." Former President Bill Clinton called him the "king of dreams."
Born in Brooklyn the son of Polish immigrants, Sendak grew up to take a few night classes but largely taught himself as an artist.
He is best known for his book, "Where the Wild Things Are." It tells the story of a boy named Max, who dresses in a white wolf costume and escapes his life at home by sailing to a remote land, where he discovers wild things who roar their terrible roars and gnash their terrible teeth.FULL STORY
In the wake of a deadly shooting, Chardon High School holds its prom at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. WEWS reports.
by Tamara Wilson, CNN
(CNN) At a time when many talk about what’s “wrong” with education, there are many talented teachers making a positive impact in our schools.
A great example of an educator who’s making such an impact is Shekema Silveri. She is an Advanced Placement (AP) English teacher in room 110 at Mount Zion High School in Jonesboro, Georgia. Silveri says she loves her students and gives them her best every day. Her students feel the same way about her – some even call her Momma.
Silveri allows ANY student to sign up for her class. There are no requirements, but she says students have to be up for the challenge. She builds confidence in her kids by having them justify their perspectives and evaluate their reasoning, while at the same time teaching them the importance of getting an education.
Mount Zion Senior Jeffrey Wallace had this to say, “We take a look at every aspect of how many great contributions we've made to America and the world as a whole, as opposed to being inside an AP U. S. history class where we predominantly talk about European history, I think it's awesome that I come inside an AP literature class and get the whole lesson that includes African American history. I believe this is great for my self confidence.”
Mount Zion is a Title I high school where you won’t find the latest technology. This forced Silveri to find creative ways to keep her students engaged. While some classrooms don’t allow cell phones, Silveri encourages her students to use them. The students look up definitions for the word of day with apps like dictionary.com and conduct research for assignments on their phones. She also believes they write more when communicating via blog and Twitter. The high school teacher integrates other multimedia into her lessons by having her students give PowerPoint presentations along with shooting and editing video.