The lasting impact of teachers


Vivian Blevins - Contributing Columnist



Ohio students spend an average of 6.61 hours a day for 180 days per year for 13 years in school. Add to this the additional hours for persons who pursue college degrees, and you realize immediately the impact that teachers have on our lives.

Most of us have had one or two squirrelly ones who should have chosen another way to earn a living, but on the whole, we’ve had an array of teachers who have left indelible positive marks on us.

Darla Renee Godwin reports on band teacher Shane Anderson at Miami East High School as being a caring, positive influence who challenged her and taught her to be physically and mentally disciplined. Jeremy Dunham says that his band teacher, Cliff Kaminsky at Jersey Community High School, gave him a mantra that he still uses today: “As long as you can go out there and say you did the best you can, that’s all I ask of you.” To Kaminsky, the band wasn’t just students but a family.

Congratulations to eighth-grade English teacher Mrs. Kohl at Kenton City Schools, who helped Hailey Zoe Anne through her teenage moodiness and algebra teacher Mr. Stauffer, who was interested in her basketball career, her schooling, her as a person, and who kept a sign displayed in his window for a year when she was chosen homecoming queen.

And then it was on to Wright State University, where Hailey reports that her most impactful college teachers there were Tracey Kramer, Dave Herick, and Nemisha Patel. Professor Kramer “showed us how to have fun in the classroom with students instead of being the students, how to care about their needs — both large and small — and how to be genuinely interested in 60-plus people at once — exactly the skills you need as a classroom teacher.”

Kelly Metz was taught physics by Doc Pilgrim, who made difficult subjects memorable. An example is the day he taught about the amount of energy needed for initial force by having all the girls in the class get in the bed of a truck and having the football players push the truck. And Nancy Metz reports that Ruth Boyd of Piqua City Schools “used all kinds of stories and props to make lessons really fun and knew how to teach every child long before IEPs.”

What of those who have had teachers with international reputations, teacher such as the first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong? After his famous adventures, Armstrong taught at the University of Cincinnati, and student Don Stackhouse says, “Neil Armstrong could take the most complex subjects and make them seem simple — one of the most naturally gifted teachers I have ever known.”

But Armstrong didn’t begin Stackhouse’s lifelong interest in aerodynamics. It started back in the eighth grade with math and science teacher, Mr. Senseman. This interest led, according to Stackhouse, “to some significant discoveries, the founding of my company, and my present career.”

Most straight-A students are going to be successful with or without teacher intervention. Michelle Cisco Collett praises retired Piqua City Schools teacher Jill Miller for getting her oldest son, Tyler, the IEP help that he needed. Paul Beckles, reassigned to a special needs school because of his asthma, was inspired by Mrs. Swire who took him to the “Queens Zoo one chilly Saturday afternoon.” Amber McKinney couldn’t afford the trip to Mexico after studying Spanish with Ms. Britton, and her teacher paid half her expenses and made her want to become a teacher, one just like Britton. And she did.

I think it’s best to focus on all those positive teachers and not stories like one I know of the teacher of an Hispanic surgeon in California advising him to learn to do something with his hands because he didn’t belong in academic environments.

In conclusion, I’d like to suggest that you consider writing a note or making a phone call to a teacher who has had a positive influence on you.

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Vivian Blevins

Contributing Columnist

Dr. Blevins has taught undergraduate and graduate students as well as prison inmates, and now teaches communication and American literature classes at Edison State Community College. Reach her at (937) 778-3815 or vbblevins@woh.rr.com.

Dr. Blevins has taught undergraduate and graduate students as well as prison inmates, and now teaches communication and American literature classes at Edison State Community College. Reach her at (937) 778-3815 or vbblevins@woh.rr.com.