Let’s be honest. Teaching is a pretty tough gig. Most teachers wouldn’t do it if they didn’t truly love it. So, whether you were a Front Row Frannie or an I Hate School Hannah, odds are you encountered at least one teacher who truly made a difference in your life. You know, that one teacher who inspired you to try something new, encouraged you when you needed support, challenged you to be or do better, or introduced a new idea or method that proved to be pretty important, in the long run. YOUR Jaime Escalante. In honor of those teachers, and since tomorrow is National Teacher Day, we’re sharing the stories of a five awesome teachers who’ve gone above and beyond the call of duty to make a difference in their students’ lives.
1. A Colorado P.E. teacher is helping her students get fit and healthy in a very different way! When high school teacher Jen Sculley discovered that her kidney was a perfect match to one of her students who was suffering from kidney disease, she didn’t hesitate to make the donation. Talk about going above and beyond! But Sculley isn’t the only teacher giving an arm and a leg, so to speak. Teachers in Ohio, New York, and Texas have all donated kidneys to save students’ lives or the lives of their loved ones. Guess teachers just can’t stand to see their students suffer.
2. One Washington D.C. Kindergarten teacher has got his kids’ toes tapping to a different beat. A devotee of Latin dances, particularly salsa, Mr. Sorto, is not just teaching his Kindergarteners to read and write in English. He’s also teaching them to read and write in Spanish – and to dance traditional Latin dances, too! His 5-year-old students have mastered salsa, merengue, and even the toe-tangling bachata. Mr. Sorto finds that dance keeps the kids engaged and the followers of his classroom Facebook page can’t get enough of his kids dancing. Encore!
3. When one of his students lost both parents within three years, Oklahoma high school football coach Chris Roberts made good on his promise that the team was really a family. Roberts and his wife took the student into their home and became the student’s legal guardians, proving that a teacher’s care extends far beyond the four walls of the classroom (or football field). We’re not crying. You’re crying.
4. It doesn’t take life-saving actions to make a great teacher, though. Mrs. D-B, a fourth-grade teacher in Miami, FL, works tirelessly to ensure that her lessons are not just educational, but fun and engaging, too. And it must be working, because her class nominated her for NPR’s 50 Great Teachers project, citing activities like Spelling Baseball, Writing Idol, and the classroom mascot, Chewbacca the humpback whale (plush, please) as proof.
5. Jones, an 8th grade English teacher in Tennessee, took special care to help assimilate one of her ESL students. Working tirelessly on his grammar, buying him a book of idioms to study, and checking on his progress throughout high school really paid off. The student went on to earn a college degree – in journalism! – and work in the communications field. Guess Ms. Jones really went the extra mile!