Making A Difference

One Teacher Can Make a Difference

Ever since I was a little girl, I knew I wanted to be two things when I grew up: a mom and a teacher.
I remember playing "school" with my dolls and stuffed animals.
I would line them up and have class each day when my older sister was at school and I was at home.
{Photo of me at age 4 playing "school" with my dolls and stuffed animals}

Being a teacher runs deep in my family.
My mom got her teaching credential.
I have 4 aunts. All 4 of them are teachers (and are still teaching to this day!).
I have 3 cousins who are currently teachers.
And, of course, my younger sister is also a teacher.
So, as you can see, teacher blood runs thick in my family.

Growing up, I was always eager for school to start up.
I loved going back-to-school shopping for new supplies and clothes.
The night before the first day of school was like the night before Christmas.
I couldn't wait to wear my first-day-of-school outfit and find out who was in my class and what my teachers were like. I couldn't wait to fill in my planner and use my fresh notebooks and new pens.

I was fortunate to live in an area that has really good schools, and I had some amazing teachers growing up. The teacher that stands out to me the most as influencing my decision to become a teacher was my 6th grade teacher, Mrs. Calvert.

As a 5th grader, I was terrified of Mrs. Calvert. I had her for reading and she was strict and hard. She challenged me and often told me I wasn't doing my best work...because she knew I could do better. I knew that I DID NOT want her in 6th grade. The day before 6th grade started, my best friend (and neighbor) AK and I went down to the school to find out who our teachers were. It was a hot day in August and we arrived at the school 10 minutes before the class lists went up. I was praying that AK and I would get the same teacher, because we had never been in the same class together. And I was praying I didn't get Mrs. Calvert. We were waiting by the office and it was 5 minutes until the list was going to be put up. The office door opened and out walked Mrs. Calvert.
She looked at me and said, "I know who your 6th grade teacher is," and then she winked at me.
I was filled with despair. I knew I was in Mrs. Calvert's class.
When the list went up, my fears were confirmed.
And my best friend AK was in a different class.
I had tears in my eyes as I walked home. I was officially dreading 6th grade.

But, it turned out to be one of the best years ever.
Mrs. Calvert was an AMAZING teacher.
She made me work hard. She challenged me and made me realize that I can be better than average, I can be great. It would take hard work and effort, but she made me realize I could do anything I wanted to do if I put my heart toward it. I grew so much that year and I owe a lot of it to Mrs. Calvert. On the last day of school, I had tears in my eyes, just like I had 9 months earlier.
But instead of crying because Mrs. Calvert was going to be my teacher, I was crying because Mrs. Calvert wouldn't be my teacher anymore.
That year confirmed that not only did I want to be a teacher, I wanted to be a teacher like Mrs. Calvert, who makes a difference in students' lives.
I continued to keep in touch with Mrs. Calvert. I would go by her classroom when I was in middle school and high school and let her know how I was doing. She came to my high school graduation and let me know how proud she was of me for getting a soccer scholarship. When I was off at college, I would write her letters as I was going through my teaching credential. I thanked her for being such an inspiration to me. The year before I finished my teaching credential, Mrs. Calvert retired because she was battling cancer. Two years later, I was hired at the same school that Mrs. Calvert had taught at.
I called her on my first day of teaching and let her know where I was working and that I would have loved to teach alongside her. I thanked her again for being such a great teacher and said that I hoped I would have an impact on students like she did. It was a brief conversation because Mrs. Calvert was losing her battle to cancer. She ended up passing away in 2006.

Because BlogHer and Capella University are awesome, they let me choose a charity that they will donate to--$1 for every comment on this post (up to $500). I chose the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society because cancer took Mrs. Calvert's life and this organization does great things for cancer research and treatment.

Just leave a comment letting me know:

Who was your favorite teacher in school and how did he or she influence you?

If you're thinking about going back to school I'd like to encourage you to check out Capella University and the programs they've got to offer. Capella offers a rigorous and supportive learning community. It can help you transform your education into work that makes a difference in the lives of others, just like Mrs. Calvert and the millions of teachers who make a difference in the lives of their students! I love being in a profession where I can help change more lives than just my own! You can find inspirational Capella University Graduate stories here.
Donation Rules:
No duplicate comments. You may receive (2) total donation entries by leaving up to two comments in response to the prompt on this post.
This promotion is open to US Residents age 18 or older.
The Official Rules are available here.
This promotion runs from 5/14/2012 - 6/30/2012.
Visit the BlogHer.com Capella page to check out more blogger stories and for more donation chances! Also, visit Capella University on their YouTube channel and Facebook to watch inspirational videos and get more information!


  1. What a fabulous blog post to wake up to! A great read and then BAM! donation city. Love it!

    My favorite teacher... definitely my high school drama teacher. She really helped me conquer low self esteem, put myself out there even if it ended in rejection. For the 3 years she taught me, I grew more than ever.

    But really I could write such great things about so many of my teachers. Takes a special soul to do that work :)

  2. My favorite teacher was my 2nd grade teacher, Mrs. Hunter.

    I dreaded having her for a teacher because I knew she was really strict and she was very, very tall which scared my because I was a tiny 8 year old. :)

    It turns out she was lovely and she really helped to foster my love of reading, which I maintain until this day!

  3. Stupid cancer! What a wonderful opportunity to raise money to fight it! I have such fond memories of "playing school" with my dolls and stuffed animals, too- I wanted to be just like Laura Ingalls Wilder teaching in the old schoolhouse! One of my favorites was Miss Sisk, a music teacher who was honorable and encouraging both in and out of the classroom. She inspired me so much, especially later on in my own teaching career.

  4. I love this Mel!

    I had so many favorite teachers so I will tell you about two of them. My first favorite was a young teacher in high school who replaced my grandfather as the advanced science teacher.

    He founded my high school's chapter of JETS (junior engineering) and did tons and tons of enrichment activities (science bowl, toothpick bridge contest) that are THE REASON I got into Caltech. Without all of those extras on my resume, I would have never gotten in.

    He did all of those for just 5-6 of us who knew we wanted careers in math and science, working tons of extra hours on weekends and evenings. He died of testicular cancer at the age of 30 while I was in college.

  5. My second favorite teacher was Mr. Fletcher, my AP history teacher. Again, he went above and beyond, letting me take three different AP classes as self study so that I could beef up my resume.

    He also was the one who told me if I put my heart into anything, I could do whatever I wanted. That I should shoot for the stars.

  6. My middle school gym teacher was one of my favorites. He was also my track coach and was the boys basketball coach when I played on the girls team. He was really invested in helping us grow and helping us learn how to deal with all of the crazy changes of middle school. I'm now a college student, and I still try to go back and visit him when I can. I'm currently in the process of becoming certified to teach social studies, and I am both anxious and incredibly excited.

  7. I also was incredibly inspired by my middle school principal. He had taught history (what I plan to teach) before moving on to the administrative position. Mr. Merce was loved by every student in the school. As fifth graders, everyone was terrified because he was "strict." However, he was also one of the most kind hearted men that I have ever met. He came to the majority of the students' extracurricular events. He gave out ice cream tickets to students who could guess history trivia or who knew the score of the Giants game the night before. He had a kind word for everyone, even the regular trouble makers. Unfortunately, Mr. Merce was killed in a car crash when I was a junior in high school. He had taken a different route to school that morning in order to pick up doughnuts for the staff, and a car swerved onto the other side of the road. His death shook my small community, but it also brought current students, alumni, and local families together. Every year since then there has been a candlelight vigil at the school to remember him.

  8. My favorite teacher was a college professor at the University of Colorado. He taught in the honors Psych program and was known as "Scary Gary," turned out he wasn't scary at all. He was an amazing man who believed in me. Thanks for everything Gary!

  9. My favorite teacher was my 5th grade teacher, Mr. Russell. Unfortunately, I don't think I truly appreciated his greatness until it was too late. He passed away mid-school year from a heart attack. Like any good teacher - he taught us incredible life lessons and his motto was, "You Can if You Think You Can" (from the poem by C. W. Longenecker). I will never forget him.

  10. That was a great post! :)

    I am a teacher too and the teacher that helped me decide that was my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Twombly. I had just moved to a new town and wasn't feeling particularly confident with that. Mrs. Twombly pushed me to do the best I could and I really thrived that year. I made amazing friends, came out of my shell, and got good grades. She loved us.... even if we used to steal her opened cans of diet coke. so terrible!

  11. Mrs. Shimmin was my favorite. She was my 2nd grade teacher, and placed a huge emphasis on reading. That was also the year my family moved to the United States, so I started school not speaking any English. Mrs. Shimmin was always extremely patient with me, and by the end of the year not only did I speak English fluently, I was the 2nd best reader in the class.

  12. First of all, thank you for letting me be a part of this fundraiser for cancer!

    I honestly don't have one favorite teacher because it was the sum of the whole that mattered most to me. Like Ms. Rollefson, Mrs. Patterson, Mr. Moses, Ms. Meeks, Mr. Trapani, Mr. Von Soosten, Ms. Yee, Mr. Bernard, Mr. Reigner and Mr. Armstrong. It was also the lunch and yard duty women who you could tell anything to and in high school the super strict older ladies who walked the halls that really just wanted you to put forth your best.

    I wouldn't be the person I am today without my teachers! And I have adored all of my kids' teachers too! They deserve more than what they receive...in more ways than one.

  13. My favorite teacher was the one dreaded getting in 6th grade. Mrs. Papert made the year so much fun.

  14. I had so many wonderful teachers. One of the best was Mrs. Centrella (called Mrs. C) She was my third grade teacher. She was strict but also kind. I loved to write, little poems and stories, and she was very encouraging.

  15. I had lots of fantastic teachers at school, but two stick in mind. One was Miss Alloway, who I had in primary 6. She pushed me to read more challenging books and brought in books that belonged to her daughter for me to borrow when I had exhausted everything in the class library. I owe my love of lots of classic books to her. The other teacher was Mr Clark, my primary school head teacher. He was our choir conductor and took us to lots of competitions. I remember when I finished primary school he gave me a photograph that was taken on that day with a note on the back saying that I could achieve anything I set my mind to. My aunt is also a teacher and she has always been an inspiration to me and has encouraged me in everything I do. Teachers do an amazing job instilling confidence and self-worth in children, and I feel so lucky to have had some great ones.

  16. There are quite a few that stand out, but one in particular was Mrs. D Williams, who you probably also had for 7th grade science. She really stood by me and helped me adjust and make friends. When I missed a month of school in 8th grade (I was her TA that year), she sent me cookies. I also ended up babysitting for her daughters a few times. I hear she is subbing a little now, you probably know better than I do... I don't know if you were already at CW when she had her accident...

    So, there is my tribute to yet another CW teacher, and a donation!

  17. My high school math teacher, Ms. Sullivan. She was the first math teacher I had where the lessons really clicked and just made sense (I wound up being an English and French major in college). I will never forget the satisfaction of math- finally- coming easily to me. Thank you for offering this opportunity- mentors always live long in our hearts, but we don't always have a forum to talk about it.

  18. My favorite teacher: Mr. Brotzman. He was funny, fun, and an amazing teacher. He made really want to go well to earn his respect and he definitely pushed the lazy high school student that I was to do her best work.
    Congrats to you on Mrs. Calvert!

  19. My favorite teachers were my high school Humanities teachers (they co-taught three subjects). They opened my eyes to the world of Art History which later became my major, and took me on my first trip to Europe! I always smile when I think of them :)

  20. This is beautiful! Mrs. Howe had to be my favorite teacher, I was scared half to death of her and everyone seemed to be. It ended up being one of the favorite semesters I've had at my school. She's incredible!

  21. My favorite teacher was one of my nursing school professors in college. She was a fiesty woman, always stood up for what was right, encouraged us as women to be bold and courageous, and to stand up for our faith. She strove for excellence and was an amazing labor and delivery instructor. She held my hand as I bawled like a baby, in awe, when I watched a woman give birth for the first time in my clinical rotation during nursing school. She encouraged me and all of my classmates so much. She was amazing. She had a gift of teaching and made such an impact on me as a wee college student.

  22. What a great tribute to your teacher. Thank you for sharing this story!

  23. What a great tribute to your teacher. Thank you for sharing this story!

  24. My favorite teacher was my mother- I was homeschooled. :)

  25. Teaching runs deep in my family as well. Although I never had either of my parents as teachers in the classroom, they have been my best teachers in life. Watching my dad be the awesome teacher that he is also inspired me to choose teaching as my profession.

  26. I went to a very small 1 1/2 room school growing up. I got to have many years with an energetic and inspiring teacher, Mr. Stern. (Isn't that a great name?) Having been taught by Mr. Stern in that setting was such a help to me when I also taught in a small one room school.

  27. My favorite teacher was in high school. She was a young teacher (just graduated uofa) and full of spirit.

  28. when I was little I wanted to be dolphin trainer or a teacher. Marine World moved out of my city so I stuck with teaching.

  29. That was a great blog post.... My favorite teacher was probably a tie between my 2nd grade teacher - Mrs. Dement and my 5th grade teacher - Mrs. Laviolette... Because of them I remain the avid reader I am today and continue to think there is nothing more wonderful than curling up with a good book.

  30. That was a great blog post.... My favorite teacher was probably a tie between my 2nd grade teacher - Mrs. Dement and my 5th grade teacher - Mrs. Laviolette... Because of them I remain the avid reader I am today and continue to think there is nothing more wonderful than curling up with a good book.

  31. love that you'll get donations. great idea! my favorite teacher was mrs. farkas. good old third grade!

  32. My favorite teacher EVER was my mom! She homeschooled my four siblings and I all the way through! :)

  33. How wonderful.

    My favorite teacher was Leann Noack. She was more than a teacher to me. She was a mother when I didn't have one. She is an amazing lady.


  34. What an amazing story, mel!

    My favorite teacher was my kindergarten teacher at Stonewall Jackson Elementary. He name was Ms. Warnock. I remember some of the fun activities and crafts she did with us even still over 25 years later! She truly cared for her class.

  35. My favorite teacher was Mrs. Sauders. She taught tenth grade English and I hoped and prayed I wouldn't have her. Alas, I did. In the end she was the best teacher I had because she challenged me the most. She died of cancer when I was a freshman in college. At her memorial service, which I attended, her daughter read a letter I had written to Mrs. Saunders telling her what a positive influence she was to me....that is a moment I treasure.

  36. This is such an amazing post. I love that a teacher had such a great impact. I had several wonderful teachers and its hard to pick a best teacher.

  37. Love your story! My favorite teacher goes all the way back to 1st Grade. I'm from a small school & to make it work at the time she had to teach a split class (both 1st & 2nd grade). Anyways, I thought it was so neat that she got to teach 2 grades....and she must have done a good job if that is still my favorite!

    Your good deed is close to my heart since my grandma passed away 17yrs. ago from leukemia. I hope this wonderful deed of yours is very successful!

  38. That is an awesome story.
    My favorite teacher had to be Ms Jarvis. She was my hs speech teacher. She was so supportive and inspiring. She was one of those kinds of teachers that you could go talk to after school, about life, and she was always there for me. She also helped give me the confidence to get through speech...eww!!!

  39. This post was fantastic!

    My favorite teacher was Mrs Dreffs who I was lucky enough to have for first and second grade. She pushed me further than anyone knew I was capable of. To this day, I refer to her as my "second mother" -- She is consistently there when I need advice and ready to offer exactly what I need to hear. I am a bridesmaid for one of my closest elementary school friends this summer and Mrs Dreffs will be in attendance at the wedding. I think this is a testament to the impact she made not only on me but on many students that were in our class.

  40. This is an awesome post. What kid would not identify with your story and what adult could not remember being a kid and feeling they way you did. I hope that your teacher stays in your heart for forever.

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