They're Still Teaching Me

TEACH[As part of the publicity for "TEACH" a documentary following the lives of four public school teachers across the country for one year, I was asked to write a bit about teachers who have inspired me.  This post is sponsored by Participant Media, but I was happy to join in because--let's face it--our public school teachers need all the help and love they can get!]

When I think about the teachers that really made a difference for me, I find that they're the ones who didn't just inspire me once upon a time, but rather, they inspire me still.  Even from hundreds of miles away.  Even after they've retired and gone on to other hobbies and careers.  The good ones still echo in my head, particularly the teachers who taught me to write.

My first grade teacher, who made an assignment of writing a little bit in a spiral-bound notebook each day--my first blog.  "Just write what you're thinking," she would tell us.  Very handy when I'm up at midnight trying to get a post ready for the next day!

My high school journalism teacher, who was wonderfully old school--particularly compared to some things I see today--about the connections between a free media and a responsible one.  If I'm about to hit publish on a blog post and I can imagine her eyebrows raising at me in a frown, I know that I need to reconsider my motives.

My senior English teacher, who I swear actually somehow projected her voice into my office one day not long ago when I was having trouble organizing a legal issue.  "Write an outline, dummy!"  (The dummy was not an insult, but an affirmation--think, "You're smarter than that, so act like it!")  I also can't help but see her dramatically face-palm her forehead whenever I slip and use the word "thing".  ("Lazy writing.  Use the word you mean instead.")

And then there's the entire literature department at my tiny undergrad college.  They tried so hard to recruit me into their major, and sometimes I wish they would have succeeded.  I can still remember the paradise of sophomore year--always walking around with my nose in some British classic or another.  And, as it turns out, parsing-out Anne Radcliffe for meaning is very good preparation for parsing-out Supreme Court opinions.

Indeed, sometimes I wonder what-on-earth I'd even be doing right now if I hadn't been blessed with such good teachers!

Do you have a teacher who has particularly inspired you?  Please feel free to share in the comments today.  

And, if you're so inclined, please also tune in for "TEACH".  It airs on CBS  on September 6th at 8:00 pm ET/PT, and on Pivot on September 14th at 8:00 pm ET/PT.  You can watch the trailer here.