Edtech Gives Thanks at the Thanksgiving Dinner Table

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Edtech Gives Thanks at the Thanksgiving Dinner Table

EdSurge community entrepreneurs and educators bestow praise upon cherished teachers

By Mary Jo Madda (Columnist)     Nov 26, 2013

Edtech Gives Thanks at the Thanksgiving Dinner Table

Let's be honest: the lone "Teacher Appreciation Day" isn't enough.

At a time when giving thanks is the name of the game, we immediately think of those individuals who've inspired EdSurge's conception--the teachers. And we know that the greater EdSurge community members each might recall those one or two special teachers who touched their life in a remarkable way. Perhaps, that very teacher inspired them to pursue edtech, or develop an educational startup.

So, we bring you a collection of memories, words, and well-wishings from the educator and entrepreneur communities alike. And if this thank-fest is one you’d like to join in on, we invite you to submit your “teacher thanks” in the comments section below!

We thank you, teachers, for your passion, creativity, and love for the field of teaching...

“My third-grade teacher Mr. Doran (shown above), now a 30+ year veteran, was a first-year teacher when he gave me the best learning experience of my life. Our classroom was born as a town, with elected public officials, a judiciary, a stock market (based upon grades 4-6 attendance), jobs (with play-money salaries for our town economy), and businesses which we launched and which supplied the class with all of its daily needs.”

--Dan-Cogan Drew, Newsela

“Thank you, Tracy McDanial, Principal of KIPP REACH College Prep, you guide and lead students and their families with an alchemy of integrity, concern, wisdom, love and commitment that has never been equaled in my eyes. So much of who I am as an educator is deeply influenced by you.”

--Jason Singer, Curriculet

“Thanks to Mr. Godwin who encouraged me, and all his 6th grade students, to embrace our individuality and passion for learning. And also a big thanks to Mrs. Yollis who never expected anything less but my best. Her dedication to the teaching profession and to the countless children she’s educated, inspires me to continue to help make the world a better place.”

--Jamie Elfenbein, The Robin Hood Foundation

“Thank you to Mrs. Connell for making my childhood a musical one. School was filled with joy because of the way you encouraged me to sing. I still do -- and I credit you with forming my conviction that an excellent education requires color and creativity. Thank you to Mrs. Flynn for taking me aside that one day in 8th grade and asking me to write my biography about Thurgood Marshall instead of Martin Luther King Jr. You knew that I needed to be stretched and I have had a new hero ever since.”

--Zak Ringelstein, UClass

For your efforts to make us effective writers and communicators...

“I thank John Byrne (above, right), 8th grade English, Friends Seminary, New York, NY for turning at least one adolescent male on to writing by punishing bad classroom behavior with writing assignments like: A day in the life of Mr. Byrne’s nostril hairs. Also, Dr. Steven Shapiro (above, left), 12th grade English, Stuyvesant High School, New York, NY for treating us like the adults we weren’t and teaching us that to learn, your gut is as important as your brain.”

--Alex Selkirk, Ponder

"I am thankful for Mr. Kauzer who made 4th grade incredibly fun, and Mr. Stolte, my AP English teacher who challenged and inspired me to take huge steps to improve my writing. Both of these teachers believed in me and greatly impacted who I am as an educator."

--Joan Young, Teacher and EdSurgent

"I'd like to give thanks to my debate coach, Mr. Shimmield, for challenging me to articulate my ideas."

--Peter Gault, Quill

For the way you welcomed us into your classroom and treated us with respect…

“This is a photo of my grade 8 homeroom teacher, Ms. B (shown above) and I, more than a decade after I was in her class. She knew me beyond just a spreadsheet of marks and understood my personal development and my goal to leave a lifelong impact. This the reason that I founded Sesame IO -- to help teachers scale that experience to all of their students.”

--Ian Tao, Sesame IO

"My co-worker Charlene Mack (shown above) was one of the best middle school math teachers I've ever seen. She showed every single one of her students that she cared about them through thick and thin. She challenged them intellectually, while also engaging them in character development. Though we worked together, she was the one who showed ME how to be a great teacher."

--Mary Jo Madda, Associate Editor and EdSurgent

“I would like to give thanks to my second grade teacher Mrs. Eubanks from Kimball Wiles Elementary. When my family moved from Texas to Gainesville, FL in the middle of the school year, she welcomed me and helped me make friends quickly since I didn't know anyone. I'll never forget her warm smile and top banana awards!”

--Bharani Rajakumar, LearnBop

For acting as our mentor, sticking with us through trials and successes...

“Thank you, Mandy Laurence (shown above), EAPrep, Austin, TX for always going the extra mile to engage every student in rigorous STEM learning. And thank you, Vito Chiala, Principal at Overfelt HS, San Jose, CA for never giving up on his educators, and giving them the support to learn, grow and develop.”

--Amber Oliver, Globaloria

“I am grateful for Brien Brown who shaped the direction of my career from high school into teaching and for Dr. Stephen Hutchings, scholar extraordinaire, who demonstrated compassion in his teaching, noticing his students as individuals, serving as a mentor and guide. He knew when I was in over my head with work and school, and helped me through so I felt like a success.”

--Dawn-Casey Rowe, Social Studies Teacher in Rhode Island

For reminding us that everyone deserves a strong education...

“Jen and Katie (Jen Burns and Katie Donovan (shown above), The Alden School, Duxbury, MA) are really special teachers. They have brought in appropriate technology to get their students to interact online and express themselves creatively. The result is students who are working very independently and responsibly, while showing respect for their classmates. Rather than telling their students what they cannot do, they are giving them the opportunities to succeed, which is exactly what they are doing.”

--Eric Braun, 30hands

“I want to thank Dr. Tara O'Neill, my favorite professor of education at University of Hawaii. I never truly believed that my special education students could accomplish great things until she told me that she was one.”

--Mark Adato, STEM Resource Teacher at Hawaii State Department of Education

“I want to mention my second grade teacher, a patient, kindhearted woman who devoted and still continue to devotes her life to her students. She gave me the tools to conquer the academic obstacles in the classroom that enabled me to become a more engaged and motivated learner. Mrs. Mosheim is the woman who also allowed me to come back to her classroom four years ago and observe her teaching skills. That was the turning point for me and is why I am a teacher today.”

--Allison Broude, First Grade Teacher in San Francisco

"I'd like to thank the over fifty curious, risk-taking, energetic teachers in our blended learning pilots here in Oakland. Our teachers are learning, along with their students, so many additional tools, strategies and techniques to improve daily teaching and learning. Teachers are failing fast and learning fast in order to not just "tinker around the edges" of classroom improvements, but are actively seeking dramatic improvements. Most impressively, our teachers have been so incredibly willing to share what they've learned so far with peers and colleagues across the city and indeed across the country. Go Oakland!"

--Greg Klein, Director of Blended Learning

And last but not least, for inspiring us to go into education ourselves.

Want to thank a teacher today? Leave a comment below!

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