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Applaud an Educator on National Teacher Day

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05/08/2012 11:32 AM
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In donating to the Class Gift program at the Ed School, many of our graduating students choose also to Applaud an Educator.  Through the program, they are able to honor the influential teachers and administrators that have made a difference in their lives and educations. In honor of National Teacher Day and National Teacher Appreciation Week, we share some of their testimonials.

Sarah Molitor, MBE’12, honors David Theelke, Hastings, Minn.
Mr. Theelke has helped me reach my goals for over 20 years. He was my fifth-grade teacher, and is someone I still think of often. I have the most memories of his fifth grade class – doing science projects where I presented the Stroop Effect, writing stories, and playing outside. I remember him asking us questions that really made us think about the world around us. He provoked curiosity and pushed us to think deeper. He also gave us a variety of enriching opportunities and created a safe learning environment where we could work with others. I will never forget him reading my story to the class. It gave me the confidence I would need through high school [and] college, and [draw on] to this day. I still want to become an author, and know I will because of his encouragement and the capacity he created for us to accomplish more than we thought possible. His teaching of math, reading, science, and life would become a strong foundation for me in future years. I also remember him playing basketball, a sport I still play to this day, with us on the playground.  I can honestly say if it wasn’t for his commitment to a strong education and his students, I would not be where I am today.

Ariana Ajir, HDP’12, honors Mary Soelberg, Agoura Hills, Calif.
Dear Mrs. Soelberg,
Thank you for being the rock for Agoura High School students.  You played such an integral role in so many students’ lives, including myself.  I would not be where I am today, if it wasn’t for your support and caring heart!  You really played a key role in my high school experience, and I am thankful for everything you offered me (from a place to rest when I was sick, to bringing laughter and smiles to my face).  I really feel blessed to have met you!  Thank you again for giving me positive encouragement and allowing me to spend countless hours with you in the health office.  You really have changed many students’ lives for the better, including myself, THANK YOU!
Miss you!
Love, Ariana Ajir

Stephen Bresnick, TIE’12, honors Deborah Bresnick, Ashland, Mass.
The educator that I would like to honor is my mother, Deborah Bresnick, who is completing an exemplary career as an educator spanning five decades. Her passion for teaching and education, her patience and kindness, her intuitive classroom management style, and her impeccable sense for what her students need from her, have all made me the educator I am today. Her unconditional love, support, kindness, advice, and wisdom have made me the person I am today. Thanks, Mom, and congratulations on a wonderful career! Love, Stephen

Kenya Mitchell, L&L’12, honors Pamela Laskin, New York City
Pam Laskin is simply a gift of a teacher.  She’s a mentor, a companion in poetry, an educator and a genuine supportive friend all wrapped up into one.  Pam has encouraged me to write books from short stories, helped me get to Africa, read my poetry manuscript, and gave a strong critiques to make it better.  She’s written so many letters of recommendation for me and a sent lot of friendly hellos via email to me as well.  Pam is always accessible despite the hard work she puts in at City College of New York.  It feels good to know I have a great teacher in my corner no matter where I am in the world.

It’s hard to put into words how grateful I am of the continual support Pam has given me over the six years I have known her.  All I can say is teachers like Pam are rarer than rubies.  Thanks Pam for being one of the jewels out there.

Cynthia Barker, EPM’12, honors Mr. and Mrs. Barker, South Dartmouth, Mass.
To my parents –

Thank you for giving me a passion for education and for inspiring me with your lifelong devotion to children and schools.  When I look back on my childhood and try to think about all the things I wanted to be when I grew up, I think a part of me always knew that I would devote my life to education.

Years ago, when I was being interviewed for a certain scholarship, the committee asked me how I defined success.  Not an easy question for a nervous 18 year old.  But the answer actually came to me quite easily: my parents.  I told the committee about you two, and how well you work together as a team, and how much you love your schools and the children and families you serve every day.  And I told them that I couldn’t imagine ever holding a job that I wasn’t excited about waking up every day to do, like you both are.  To me, that was success.  Not being able to buy everything you ever wanted, but knowing that the work you were doing was making a difference to others, and thriving each day on that knowledge.

Thank you for being a part of this exciting year of my journey, and for supporting me in so many ways.

And thank you for always believing in me and in my ability to make the world a better place.  I promise to never stop trying.

I love you.

Juan Cortes, HEP’12, honors Timothy Stoelinga, Oak Park, Ill.
Ever since I was in high school, Tim has inspired and motivated me to pursue my educational goals while prompting me to reflect deeply on my own path in life.  As my teacher, he pushed me to excel and do my best by challenging me and always believing that I could overcome any obstacle.  As a mentor, he helped guide me through some of the most difficult and important moments in my life.  As a friend, he continues to encourage me to pursue my goals and dreams while sharing his goals in life as well.  I wish to recognize Tim because he has inspired me not only through our interactions, but also through his example as an educator.  His dedication to his students and his desire to teach them lessons about life in addition to the coursework made a tremendous impact in many lives.  I strive to be just as dedicated and motivated about the people that I will have the opportunity to impact in my life.  I hope that one day I will be an inspiration to someone just as Tim has been an inspiration to me in my life!

Jerre Maynor, HEP’12, honors George Poe, Sewanee, Tenn.
George Poe is one of the most committed teachers I know. For me, his teaching — a combination of rigorous expectations and incomparable personal care — unlocked the power of language, literature, and ideas. As a college student, he gave me the courage and the tools to love learning on a deeper level than I had ever achieved. Dr. Poe certainly made me a better student. But, more importantly, his scholarship and mentorship taught me how to enjoy the world.

Jung Cho, EPM’12, honors Shareen Hertel, Storrs, Conn.
Professor Shareen Hertel’s (University of Connecticut) mentorship, guidance, and teachings were instrumental to my success as an undergraduate student and beyond. I truly believe she is the epitome of an academic mentor and teacher and an exemplar in the university community at large. Without her guidance, support, and fervent belief in my success, I would not be where I am today. She has encouraged me to pursue a career in social justice, being an agent of change in any field that I may choose. I admire her leadership and commitment to the students she teaches and mentors. Professor Hertel is truly one-of-a-kind!

Jichan Kim, HDP’12, honors Roy Mittelman, New York City
Dr. Roy Mittelman, director of Jewish Studies at the City College of New York, is the most memorable teacher in my life. I was “fresh off the boat” when I first met him. Our conversation began with “Bibim-bap” and a few years later, I found myself majoring in Jewish Studies. The first class I took with him was Intro to the Holocaust – I thought it was a class about how to survive in difficult situations, and I desperately wanted to learn how to survive in the U.S. Although everything started because my poor English led me to read the course description wrong, a few years later, I found myself marching from Birkenau to Auschwitz, saying “Never again!” Have you ever fastened your seatbelt in your class? I took four classes with him and every one of them was truly inspiring. He taught and interacted with students like a champion with a sense of humor, charisma, and enthusiasm. A seatbelt was not an option but a must in his classes. He aroused doubts in me. He helped me to pursue my own interest in life. He taught me that following my own interest is being true to myself. Moreover, after arousing doubts in me, he also empowered me to follow my goals by putting his trust in me and supporting me all the way. Now as a teacher myself, I hope to arouse doubts in my students and empower them to go where they must go in life.

We invite you to “applaud an educator” in the comments below.

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  • John Merrow, EdD ’73

    Three K-12 teachers on my list: my 1st grade teacher, Mrs. Peterson, who also taught all my brothers and sisters. Thanks to her (and our parents), we were early readers. Mr. McKinley, my 10th grade English teacher, who challenged us to stay alert (he made errors on purpose), and Mr. Sullivan, my 12th grade English teacher, who convinced me that I could handle the language reasonably well and who inspired my own teaching. At HGSE, I had a raft of fine teachers, including David Cohen, Jay Featherstone and Marshall ‘Mike’ Smith. Apologies to those I inadvertently omitted.

  • http://papliploen.wordpress.com/ Dora Mesa

    I live in Cuba where the teachers and educators have few considerations from the society and Government, but after I have read your comments and letters I realize that I am in the correct route. If you want to know a little about something about the Cuban education , may be you should visit the blog plapliploen.wordpress.com. Congratulations teachers and educators!!!

  • Cathy Rodner

    I honor my niece, Christina McLeod, who has taught and excelled in NYC inner city schools for the past 10 years. She has improved test scores and graduation rates and has commuted from first Staten Island , and now lower Manhattan to the South Bronx, getting her pregnant self thru the Occupy Wall St. protests after completing a 12 hour day. Her students love her and so do I! Catherine Rodner

  • Miko Hingpit

    I live in the Philippines and I teach Japanese students who desire to learn the English language online. I admire their sense of dedication and interest to know more about the language. The experience with them is not merely about you getting compensation during payday, but more importantly it’s about building relationship and being human. We all learn from each other and all of us are commendable teachers to each other. Thanks HGSE.

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