May is Teacher Appreciation Month and we will celebrate by turning over this blog to teachers. Throughout the month, we will hear from a new teacher and a veteran teacher about their experiences in teaching. Before they take center stage, I wanted to take a few minutes to thank several teachers who had a huge impact on my life. I was the son of two high school dropouts, who expected me to go straight to work after high school. Several teachers saw something else and pushed me to excel; their strong example led me to college and into education.
The first educator was my fifth-grade teacher, Mrs. Perham. She was a no-nonsense teacher who expected the best from her students. I remember each day she would post a question that you had to find the answer to before class started. She kept track with a chart of how many questions that you got right. There was intense competition to see who could get the most right. She was also creative and engaged students every day. She did not care what your background was; she wanted every student to learn. What I learned in fifth-grade carried me into high school and beyond. Another thing that I remember was that Mrs. Perham was always professional and set an example for all others to follow. She never put down a student or embarrassed someone in front of other students. She was the kind of teacher that you did not want to disappoint.
The second teacher was Mr. Gribbon, who taught history at my high school. He loved the subject, and that was obvious from his teaching. He also loved his school and literally wrote the history of the place. He would stand on his desk to make his point, and he had a running feud with the library that was comical. Every student who took his class learned something and was engaged. I took every class that I could from him. He took my interest in history and turned it into a love that still stays with me today. I credit him with my decision to become a history teacher.
I know that everyone out there has a teacher that has touched and inspired them. During Teacher Appreciation Month, I urge you to reach out and thank the teachers that have made a positive impact in your life. I touched based with Mrs. Perham when I first became a Superintendent, and she was still teaching. Evidentially, she wasn’t as old as my fifth-grade mind thought that she was. Mr. Gribbon passed away several years ago, and the outpouring of love from the community was worthy of a head of state extending his condolences.
Take a moment this month and thank a teacher. I still hear from my former students. I am proud of the adults that they have become, and they give their old history teacher – Mr. Markley – thanks for helping them along the way.