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ThankATeacher Two Model Teachers

In celebration of Teacher Appreciation Week (May 4 – 8), we’re saying ‘thank you’ to the extraordinary people who work so hard to inspire student success, even beyond the classroom walls.  We asked NMSI team members to reflect on some of the amazing teachers who have made a difference in their lives. Today, our statistics content specialist Curtis Brown tells us about Mr. Eck and Mr. Campbell, two teachers who challenged him in the classroom and inspired him to become an educator himself. Throughout the week, we’ll continue to tell our stories and we invite you to add your own in the comments section below.
“Good morning, boys and girls! And how are you today?” The sing-song greeting would ring out to let us know class was ready to start. We would chime back “Good morning, Mr. Eck. And we are very fine!” Mr. Eck was my third-grade teacher at Conger Elementary School in my little home town in eastern Oregon. When I was asked to think about the teachers that had the biggest impact on me, flashbacks from Mr. Eck’s class immediately began running through my mind. Perhaps the most vivid memory comes from the first (and last) time I attempted cheating on a test.
Yes, before I became a teacher, I was a little freckle-faced blonde boy who wanted desperately to please my teacher and parents by being successful in school. I am a procrastinator by nature and I had put off studying for a spelling test. I put my study paper at the bottom of the seat in front of me so I could see it while taking my test. Of course, I got caught and attempted to lie about it. Mr. Eck was firm, but graceful. Though he knew what I had done, he let me go back to my seat without as much as a harsh word. I just remember that horrible feeling when I realized he knew that I had lied. He knew me well enough to know that I would eventually admit it, but he let me go through the agonizing process of realizing my fault and having to admit to him that I’d lied. This was the first of many life lessons that are a big part of what shaped me as an educator.
There was also Mr. Campbell, my sixth-grade elementary teacher. I was in a class of mostly boys, many of us quite bright and with attitudes to match. Keeping our class on task couldn’t have been a more monumental undertaking. Instead of taking the easy way out and coming down with harsh discipline, I remember Mr. Campbell working alongside us and challenging us as a class. He had an incredibly high level of expectation, despite our boyish attitudes, and that was the single best thing he could have done for us. Specifically, I remember a report I was supposed to write about a foreign country. I had chosen Brazil. I am not a writer by any stretch of the imagination, but Mr. Campbell took the time to give feedback and encourage me to write more. After many revisions, and countless hours of frustration, I stood in front of the class with my little flag that moved up and down the flagpole and gave a report that I could really be proud of. This is just one small example of how he asked us to go beyond what we thought we could do, and to create and study more than we should have been able to do. I appreciate the drive for education and the high expectation for myself that he instilled in me.
These men greatly influenced who I am as an educator and who I am as a person. Every time I have an opportunity to be in a classroom I am reminded of their impact on me and the impact we as teachers have on our students. We have an opportunity every day, when those little (or big), minds come in, to help shape and motivate them and to fill them with knowledge and inspiration. Part of that is lived, part of that is spoken, but all of it is observed by the young minds we have the privilege to teach. Thank you teachers for the enthusiasm and energy you bring to your students. Specifically, thank you, Mr. Eck and Mr. Campbell, for the passion you brought to even such young minds as ours in your classes.