“One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world.”

Maya Angelou, an American poet, singer and civil rights activist, said “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” If a student walks into a classroom and feels welcomed, they have a much greater likelihood of success simply because they know they are wanted which translates into being inspired to do well.

Claudia Cuddyer, of Chesapeake, Virginia has a fantastic reputation among the students she taught as evidenced by her words: “I’ve been fortunate enough to become friends with some of my former students and follow their lives into adulthood. I think something that shaped me as a teacher was the fact that when I began teaching, I was only about 5-6 years older than my students. The things that they were going through, emotionally and educationally, were so fresh in my mind that I had a lot of empathy. I’ve been told repeatedly by students (later on) that it was my ability to at least try and understand their struggles that made them do their best to succeed in my class. They WANTED me to be proud of them and to celebrate their successes, since I had also shared in their struggles.”

TAKEAWAY:  Teachers are there to share in your struggles and your success.

Thelma Watson was a motivator and her entire life was spent scattering kindness. She motivated her students at Rosa A Temple High School in Vicksburg, Mississippi by adding humor, encouragement, compassion, and her ability to integrate current events into plays and literature into curriculum. Now her students are globally making an impact on this world.

TAKEAWAY: Pay attention to the compassion that you witness from teachers. It may help you make an impact on this world.

A great example of Ryan Jung‘s teaching ability is when he tutored a person after they had failed a test multiple times. Not only did the student learn enough to pass the test, but also got a promotion. Ryan teaches in Roseville, Minnesota where students are anyone with a high school diploma hoping to become a certified pharmacy technician. He has found the most surprising part of teaching to be “the challenge of being relatable to individuals across an ever expanding socio-economic and culturally diverse workplace.” He addresses that challenge by custom building skill sets catered towards the individual.

TAKEAWAY: Even failing a test multiple times doesn’t make you a failure. Don’t hesitate to ask for help.

Alice Cooper of Brooklyn Center, Minnesota was an outstanding educator at the Earle Brown Elementary School where she taught K-8 grades for 42 years. She motivated her students by “impersonating characters in books to get students interested in the subject area.”

TAKEAWAY: If there’s a teacher who has motivated you, let them know that so they can continue to motivate others.

But are teachers the only ones who teach? We’ve probably all learned some important life lessons from parents, mentors, coaches or friends. And learning takes place on the ball field, at social gatherings, in prisons and at various times throughout our lives. If we want to learn from the greatest teachers, we may need to listen more to the people around us and gain from their experience. We might also be surprised if we knew that others are watching us and using some of the things we say and do as teaching tools.

TAKEAWAY:  You might be the great teacher someone is hoping to meet!

Karen Kitchel is passionate about scattering kindness. Currently she serves meals to the homeless, is a volunteer teacher, writer, job coach and mentor.

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