Teacher Appreciation Week: Getting Smart Team Favorites

We couldn’t think of a better way to wrap Teacher Appreciation Week then highlighting the teachers that have impacted the lives of our team. Share your favorite teacher stories in the comments below!


“Lillian Grissen was my 7th grade English teacher.  The only two things I remember about that year are kissing a girl and writing a story about a Colorado ghost town called Tabernash. The kiss (and romance) was short but the paper seemed to go on for ever. Mrs. Grissen made me write and rewrite it until it was a decent work product. It was the first time that a teacher cared enough about me and my writing to make me write the best story I could.”


”Sitting through a presentation approximately a year ago sponsored by The Center for Reinventing Public Education I had the opportunity to hear John Danner, Rocketship Education speak about blended learning and his experiences as an educator.  As he spoke a warm glow came over his eyes as he recalled a moment in a classroom when a student “got it”.  At that moment I was certain of his genuine passion for teaching and serving the students in his care.  Not only do I wish that moment to be had by every teacher but that every student could have a teacher/educator who cared as passionately as John.


“It’s so hard to focus on just one favorite teacher. There was my second grade teacher – Miss Johnson, who I remember as the most loving person on the planet, that inspired me to be a second grade teacher. There was my high school Chemistry teacher, Bill Richey, that encouraged me to go to college and supported my choice to enter the field of education at a time when others didn’t. As a teacher, I can’t say enough about the amazing educators at Pattison Elementary that became my personal and professional “tribe.”  Even through graduate school, there remains a consistent thread among all the great teachers in my life –  they were the ones that pushed me beyond what I thought was possible and the ones that ignited passions in me that I didn’t know I had.”


“I’ve had ok teachers, good teachers and some great ones. None stick out in my head quite like the one that never actually had me on her class roster. She was my cheer coach, my mentor, and at times my best friend at Illahee Junior High School. Carrie Healey taught English during school hours but she taught the girls on her cheer team so much more after school. She provided the adult ear of reason without judgement, offered the shoulder to cry on, and always supplied a dose of laughter when it was needed. She is my favorite memory from all my school years and I love that she still lives and works in Federal Way. We still run into each other randomly and I love that even with all the faces that have passed through her classroom, she never forgets mine. Numerous teachers I’ve had taught me basic lessons – she taught life lessons that I’ll never forget and for that, I am forever grateful to her.”


“One of the greatest gifts in my life was having Mrs. Kathy Wojtecki as my mentor teacher during my student teaching, years ago, back in Milwaukee Public Schools. This wonderful woman showed me how to be an educator. She taught 8th grade to a class of 42 of students, bused in from all over the city of Milwaukee, most coming from poor and struggling households. There was virtually NO parent involvement in the school. Still, she loved every one of her students. And they loved her back.

So sadly, I learned Kathy passed away earlier this year after dedicating 32 years to teaching in the Milwaukee Public Schools. Although this incredible Ted Talk does not come from her directly, I clearly hear Kathy Wojtecki’s spirit in the words. I highly recommend taking 7 minutes to listen to Rita Pierson in honor of Teacher Appreciation Week.”


“I believe that a great teacher has the ability to inspire and engage students, regardless of the course or subject. Mr. Hudson taught 11th grade American History at Cascade High School and his class was one of the most difficult to get into. I was one of the lucky juniors that got into his class and was able to benefit from his style of teaching. Mr. Hudson’s focus was on making American History applicable and engaging for his students. Most of his projects were hands on, requiring students to travel beyond Everett, WA. My experiences ranged from walking along the actual Oregon Trail to meeting with individuals from the Makah Native American Tribe on the Olympic Peninsula, to try and better understand why they wanted to reinstate their Gray Whale hunting tradition. It was because of Mr. Hudson’s class that I got my first taste of travel and helped me understand how history has shaped the way the United States is today.”


“I think the art of a great teacher is someone who makes you enjoy learning. It’s someone who finds joy and passion in empowering others and listens more than talks. When I was in fifth grade I was fortunate to have Mr. Paul Wezeman at Enterprise Elementary in Federal Way, WA as a teacher. Wezeman was blending his classroom before blended learning was cool. In 1994 we were set up in classroom rotation stations where we rotated between online programs, small group instruction and individual learning time. As a frustrated ten year old I couldn’t understand why Wezeman would not just answer questions when I’d run to his desk, he instead insisted that I try and answer the question myself or ask my peers for help. I didn’t understand he was empowering me to take charge of my learning. It was the first time in my life that my parents didn’t leave a parent teacher conference upset because a teacher finally understood how to motivate me and actually encourage my gift of gab through classroom presentations. After two years in his classroom, I went on to junior high a totally different student. Wezeman made me love learning.”

Getting Smart Staff

The Getting Smart Staff believes in learning out loud and always being an advocate for things that we are excited about. As a result, we write a lot. Do you have a story we should cover? Email [email protected]

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