I went to a small charter school for middle school. Our English/literature teacher was brand new to teaching, if I remember correctly she was only 22 which seemed odd at the time. She always did her best to be so cheerful and make learning fun. But the thing that truly solidified1
her spot as my favorite teacher was that for every student’s birthday she would give you a personalized mini notebook.
It was just a simple small composition notebook but she had filled the first couple pages telling me how much she loved having me as a student, how far she knew I would go, and other affirmations. It seems small but as a 13 year old who had a crappy home life it made all the difference in how I acted the rest of the year.
Junior year of high school, English class. We were discussing a story we had read. One student (let's call him Carl,) made a point. The teacher was dismissive and basically said Carl was wrong.
The next day, after we took our seats the teacher said, "Before we begin, I was thinking about what Carl said yesterday. I was wrong to dismiss it so quickly. Let's take a look at that again."
He then went on to repeat Carl's point and initiate2
a conversation with the entire class. After the conversation, it became apparent Carl's point was indeed off base, but I was impressed the teacher publicly owned his mistake and went down the path he should have.
When I was in the 1st grade my mother gave me one of MANY really awful haircuts. The first day back at school afterward3
the kids picked on me horribly. So much that I ran out and hid. The principal found me and we went back to the classroom and he asked me to wait outside for a minute while he talked to the class. He then walked me to his office and bought me a Coke.
The next day - first thing in the morning - we had an assembly with the entire school and he walked up on stage with his head shaved completely bald and talked about bullying4
and the like.
Some twenty years down the road he had retired5
and I ran into him at the local college. I shook his hand and said, "You probably don't remember me, but,"
"yes I do," he interrupted and said my name and the event.
The man was and is a hero in my eyes.