Power of Teachers

Filed in National by on May 5, 2012

The National Education Association, in celebration of National Teacher Day and National Teacher Appreciation Week, is asking Americans to recall at least one great teacher they’ve had. I’ve been lucky in my life to have had several and currently my son in the Brandywine School District has had many as well.

Mr. Praetzel was my high school physics teacher and he eschewed the dryness of 70s physics education make the class that everyone enjoyed. Instead of using dry questions regarding weights, velocity and acceleration, he used various examples that peaked our interest and most of them involved Wiley Coyote trying to drop an anvil one the the speedy Road Runner. Just this simple way of presenting the laws of physics made his class an exceptional time in my life.

As I look at my son’s current crop of teachers, there are two that will stick out forever in his life. Both of these educators teach outside the box and both make their classes exciting and new. How do I know? Because my son actually talks to us about these two classes and the fun things that the teachers do. I believe both teachers have made a significant imprint on my son so that he’ll be always excited about getting an education.

If you care to add use the comments to write about a teacher who mean something in your life.

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A Dad, a husband and a data guru

Comments (9)

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  1. Rustydils says:

    I am 54. I can pretty much say that I had almost all good teachers from grade school to mid school to high school to college. I don’t know what has changed, but I understand that is not the general concencous these days. I remember a number of my teachers, but one in particular stands out. Mr. Adair. My 9th grade American History teacher at Coronado High School, in El Paso, Texas. Mr. Adair was tough, but I generally did my homework, so I could do fine with a tough teacher. Two things had Mr Adair upset that year. First, he told us on day one, that he did not teach 9th grade American History, but he taught 11th grade Government. So he told us, even though the school made him take this 9th Grade American History Class, he was going to just teach us his 11 grade government class, end of story. And he said his 11th grade government class consisted of teaching us the U.S. constitution. That is all we did that year. The second problem that Mr Adair had that year, is that for whatever reason, the school also made him have an assistant teacher. Mr Adair was an older gentleman, say the age I am now. And they had given him a retired military student teacher. I would say this fellow was in his 40′s. Well, Mr Adair did not like this guy, or at least he did not like the fact that the school made him have him in class every day. So Mr. Adair set him up for a big fall. About the second or third week of the semester, Mr Adair gave us a very difficult essay test. And he told this student teacher to be very tough grading it.(We did not find out about that grading part until later). Well the student teacher followed orders, and I think the highest grade in the class was about a 50, with most people getting between 25-35 on the test. Well on a friday, Mr Adair took all those test to the front office, and showed the principle, and the principle either transferred the student teacher, or removed him from duty, but he was no longer in the class for the rest of the semester. Then Mr Adair set out teaching us the U.S. constitution. I don’t remember what grade I got, But boy, by the end of that semester, I knew the constitution backwards and forwards. Pretty good stuff for 9th graders. I wish I had a good memory, and could still remember all that was in it like I did then. Thanks for this piece.

  2. Liberal Elite says:

    @Rd “I don’t know what has changed, but I understand that is not the general concencous these days.”

    Well.. Let’s see.

    Teachers are poorly paid.
    Teachers given little respect from people like you.
    Their unions have been under attack for years for protecting what few benefits and little pay they do get.
    Teachers are recruited from the bottom half of the graduating classes and from the bottom half of the major colleges.

    Compare that with what South Korea does:

    Teachers are well paid and well respected.
    Teachers are recruited from the top half of their graduating class.
    Teachers are recruited from their very best universities.

    That’s it… That’s all you really need to do… But the GOP keeps it crappy here… Really crappy.

  3. mediawatch says:

    LE, I’ll agree with you on all of this:
    Teachers are poorly paid.
    Teachers given little respect from people like you.
    Their unions have been under attack for years for protecting what few benefits and little pay they do get.
    Teachers are recruited from the bottom half of the graduating classes and from the bottom half of the major colleges.

    However, much as many readers/posters on this blog (myself included) would like to blame this on the GOP, as you’re doing, I can’t accept that.
    Show us, if you can, just one state in the union, controlled primarily by Democrats, in which teachers are not poorly paid, receive sufficient respect from the public, have not had their unions under attack, and are recruited from the cream of their college classes.
    While there may be some state by state variations, by and large the picture you paint applies nationwide, and it matters little which party is in control of the state government.

  4. Liberal Elite says:

    @m “Show us, if you can, just one state in the union, controlled primarily by Democrats, in which teachers are not poorly paid, receive sufficient respect from the public, have not had their unions under attack, and are recruited from the cream of their college classes.”

    I think there are two parts to this answer:

    The first part addresses why there is a “War on Education” in the US. Why is it that college students who have been paying attention to the news, run the other way, when they have options, and even the ones who do try teaching often move on within a year or two. The “War on Education” is coming entirely from the right. More specifically, it is being waged by a foreign owned corporation, Fox News. Do you think Rupert Murdoch cares one whit what happens to the educational system in the US? Really?? It seems we have foreigners coming into our system hell bent on screwing it up. And to what end? Who benefits? (Just follow the money…).

    Part two, looks at the best public school systems in America. I believe that these are Fairfax County, VA and Montgomery County, MD. These are places where teachers are respected and paid reasonably well. Veteran high school teachers there with masters degrees earn $100k/year. But its not just the money. There are places that spend even more per student but have terrible results (e.g. Washington DC). It’s really about the climate, expectations, and an attitudes there. As a result, Montgomery County has the highest per capita college graduates in the nation.

    If you look at the top 20 public school districts, I am guessing that ALL of them are run by Democrats. If you look at the worst 20, I am guessing that you have a mix or poor Republican controlled areas and Democrat controlled inner cities.

    From a personal perspective, I have a daughter who has a masters degree in education. She taught middle school science for one full year. She wanted to teach high school… or at least she thought she wanted to teach. Next week, she is graduating from medical school, and leaving education behind. It’s a shame. It’s a shame that service industry jobs get a lot more pay and respect than teaching.

    …only in the US…only in the US do our best and brightest end up in the service industry (e.g. doctors and lawyers). You can’t build a great nation with your service industry!

  5. John Manifold says:

    The first step of the privatizers of education was to cut back on art, music, libraries and physical education. Very short-sighted:

    http://www.samefacts.com/2012/05/uncategorized/supporting-the-arts/

    “Why the things that make life worth living – art and health – are frills or optional in a sane, rich society, and why Venezuela can afford a national network of youth orchestras and we can’t, are mystifying, but here we are.”

  6. Geezer says:

    “I can pretty much say that I had almost all good teachers from grade school to mid school to high school to college.”

    Having read your musings here for several months, I can assure you that you didn’t.

  7. Rustydils says:

    Geezer, just because when I got out in the real world, I started being a big believer in self reliance does not mean I did not have good teacher in school. I did have good teachers in school.

    And Liberal elite, I deeply respect teachers. I am for higher pay for teachers. What I don’t agree with is all of the administrators getting so much money. I think the bulk of the education money needs to go straight to the teachers, and we need to streemline the administrations, and let the teachers be paid well. Teaching needs to be an attractive job again, where one can see results

  8. socialistic ben says:

    Rusty, for the second time ever, i agree with you. :) When 4 more “district administrators” are hired instead of even 1 more teacher, there is something very wrong with the system.

    @LE “Their unions have been under attack for years for protecting what few benefits and little pay they do get.”
    Teacher’s unions need a reality check. Im ALL FOR UNIONS. I understand the need for unions, i understand their origins, i understand what they do and why they do it…. That said, Unions can become a detrimental force. No entity or institution is flawless. none. Not the Church, not the DNC, not the Phillies, Not unions. It is hard to fire a bad teacher. Sure, if they molest a student, or ever made a mistake ever in their life that someone took a picture of, they are canned instantly…. But ineffective teachers are hard to get rid of for better ones.
    I don’t have an answer for this. The last thing we want to do is make it EASY for teachers to get fired. On ass hole parent who doesn’t want to accept responsibility for their child being a waste shouldn’t be able to take down an otherwise good teacher. An educator should be able to feel safe in their job (especially science teachers, since so many Tehadis have made science a controversy) But there must be some way to get rid of the bad ones.

  9. Prop Joe says:

    @socialistic_ben: Actually, it’s not as hard to fire ineffective teachers as the public, anti-union, and ed reform groups would have you believe. If the administrators are doing their jobs correctly and adhering to the performance observation guidelines and providing detailed evidence of the teacher’s work, then that creates the “paper trail”, so to speak. I don’t believe teacher unions are against firing ineffective teachers. I think the teacher unions, at least the one I belong to, simply want the process to be fair, valid, and transparent and NOT a principal doing a half-assed job observing, providing no credible avenues for improvement, and then dismissing “just because.” If a principal follows the evaluation guidelines and the teacher doesn’t improve, the teacher’s contract, at least in the tiny state o’ Delaware, isn’t going to keep that person afloat for very long…

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