Show your appreciation for a teacher who changed your life in the comments below!

With Teacher Appreciation week coming to a close, it is important to remember that great teachers change our lives forever, and one week is never enough to show our appreciation. This week challenges us to reflect on our own teachers, and to remember to show our appreciation daily by trying to live up to the high expectations they set for us. With that in mind, each of us on the Expect More Arizona team wrote a short memory of a teacher who inspired us:

Pearl Chang Esau: My favorite high school teacher was Ms. Lee.  She taught our school’s AP calculus class, and she was a wonderful role model for me, both because she shared my ethnic heritage and because she was a proud female mathematician.  Teachers like Ms. Lee helped me to believe in my own potential.

Donna Davis: I wanted to be a teacher from the time I entered school and I spent many hours at home playing school with my sister.  However, I lived in a time where women stayed at home and raised children and my family believed that a college education was a waste and I would never need it.  Everything changed for me when Mrs. Morton became my business teacher in high school.  I learned typing and shorthand from her, which became my favorite subjects (always have liked that applied learning).  Annually, our school had Student Government Day and students became the teachers, administrators and support staff at our school.  I took on Mrs. Morton’s role and absolutely loved it.  Mrs. Morton was the one who convinced me that I COULD go to college.  She helped me get a small scholarship from the school, helped me fill out my college application and even helped me fill out the loan paperwork so I could go to school.  Without Mrs. Morton’s support and her high expectations for me, I never would have received my teaching certificate!

Erin Hart: From my early years through college, I’ve been able to have some incredible teachers in my life. I remember one of my first teachers, Mrs. Hausman, who was my Kindergarten teacher. She not only taught me how to count to ten in Spanish, but taught me how to read and write.  I also remember my teacher, Mrs. DeYoung, who I had for 1st and 4th grades. She was strict, tough, and my first teacher to give me homework over summer vacation.  I learned so much from her and, admittedly, it was fun to learn the 50 state capitols during the summer.  In 7th grade, I had one of my favorite teachers, Mrs. Suzie Hart. We shared the same last name, although we weren’t related.  She might not know it, but she really helped shape me into the person I am today. She still holds a special place in my heart, so much so that I invited her to my wedding years after I was in her class.  In high school, I remember Ms. Sideris and Mr. Garcia, my English and geometry teachers, respectively.  They embodied what it meant to have high expectations for their students, pushing and encouraging all of us to learn and do more than we had ever done before.  As I reflect back, I am thankful for all that these teachers gave to my classmates and me. They set the bar high and provided us with the encouragement and support we needed to be successful.  I am eternally grateful for their support and the time they invested in making me who I am today.

Rebecca Lindgren: I had many wonderful teachers growing up who impacted my life in numerous ways.  One, in particular, who comes to mind is Dr. Bull who taught algebra at Camelback High School in Phoenix.  Dr. Bull was a no-nonsense teacher who ran a tight ship, but he was absolutely committed to his students’ understanding of mathematical principles.  In addition to teaching several classes each day, he staffed a homework hotline at night so that when students were struggling, they could call and get help.  While I never became a great mathematician, Dr. Bull showed me that, with hard work and discipline, I could conquer difficult subjects.

Jeff Goodman: I had many incredible teachers growing up, but Dan Zollars was in a league of his own. Mr. Zollars was our choir teacher, and taught us a lot about music and performing, but, more than any other teacher, he taught us how to be independent thinkers, good citizens, and responsible collaborators. He taught us to find humor in everything, and he expected excellence from each of us, not only in his own classroom. There is no question that my classmates and I, along with countless others of his former students, are better people and more successful today for having been in Mr. Zollars’ choirs. Although he is no longer with us, we strive to live up to his memory and to be the people he expected us to be.

We want to say thank you to these and all the other teachers who changed our lives. And, we want to show our appreciation for the Arizona teachers who are expecting more and changing lives today. We thank you – not just this week – every day.

What teacher changed your life for the better? Let us know and say thank you in the comments below.