Teachers Share the Amazing Educators Who Influenced Their Own Careers

Teachers change lives.

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, we asked educators to share some of the teachers that influenced them when they were young. Take a look at these inspiring stories, and then thank an important teacher in your life. They deserve it!

Encouraging Talent

My fifth grade teacher changed my life. Her name was Mrs. Woodall, and she was the first person who recognized my aptitude for writing. Each week, she allowed me to write stories (instead of just sentences) with my spelling words, and then I would read them to the class each week. She also sponsored my first writing contest where I won an award. I’m about to graduate to be a middle school and high school English teacher. I can’t wait to start encouraging students with writing, too. –Pamela Gifford

"My fifth grade teacher changed my life" pamela gifford quote

Creativity at its Best

My first grade teacher, Mrs. Mackey, was one of my most creative teachers. I still remember when she let us bring in our stuffed animals so they could have a “sleepover” overnight in our classroom. When we arrived in class the next day, the animals were all doing silly things. For instance, my bear was riding around on a record player. Mrs. Mackey had us create stories of what happened at the sleepover. It was a fun way to teach spelling and creative writing. –Lauren Pauline

Lauren Pauline quote

A Little Magic

Mrs. Johnson was my second grade teacher, and she was a magician! Seriously, she actually rewarded our good behavior with magic tricks. She would also take us to a fancy dinner when we’d meet our reading goals. When I had Mrs. Johnson as a teacher, I was going through a hard time. Yet, I knew that she loved me. This goes a long way to a kid, and I’ll never forget her. –Jennifer Gossett

Jennifer quotes

Up in Flames

I can remember the exact moment I knew I wanted to be a teacher. I was in second grade at the time and Miss Uncao was my teacher. We had been learning about maple syrup for several days, and she was finally letting us make our own. I can still remember the wonderful smell of the syrup and the big pot boiling.


Toward the end of the process, Miss Uncao reached for the pot with some paper towels, and they caught on fire. While all the other kids were screaming in fear, I couldn’t help but notice how calm and together Miss Uncao was. I knew everything would be okay, and at that moment, I knew I wanted to be just like her. As a teacher now, whenever I’m having a bad day or can’t quite connect with my students, I think back to that day of making maple syrup. It reminds me that things don’t always go as planned. However, I became a teacher because I want to make a difference in the lives of the little people, and I wouldn’t change that for anything in the world. –Daniela Belmonte

Daniela quote

Sharing a Dream

One of my best teachers was Ms. Charbonnet, my fifth grade teacher. She was smart, a professional, and never spoke down to us. I was intimidated by her but in a good way. Ms. Charbonnet was the first African American that I had in my life, and I still remember when she played “I Have a Dream,” for us on a record player. I remember watching her listen with us, and the experience was incredible. Like Ms. Charbonnet, I’m a tough but fair teacher. Yet all my students know I’m ultimately there for them. I owe my teaching career to this woman, and I am forever grateful. –Amy Goldman

Amy quote

Teaching Respect

Mr. Proudfoot was one of the tallest teachers in my school. He had very white hair and always wore a three-piece suit. Every day, Mr. Proudfoot taught me how to write. In the three and a half years that I worked with him, my writing went from basic eighth grade compositions to thoughtful, sometimes powerful essays and stories. This isn’t all he taught me or his other students, though. Looking back, it was the way he treated us with respect, dignity, compassion, and professionalism. He set a tone with the way he dressed and the way he addressed us—Ms. Allen, Mr. Smith. It made us rise to a higher level. As a fourth grade teacher, I try to emulate Mr. Proudfoot with my own students. They know they are valued, respected, and loved. I took classes with Mr. Proudfoot to write, and instead I walked away with a complete guide on how to treat my students. –Margeurite Flanigan

Quote of Margeurite Flanigan

Love of Reading

I might not be a traditional educator—I’m a children’s author and naturalist who does educational programs and school visits. But I love teaching students about nature and writing, and I definitely have a teacher that made a strong impact on my life. Mrs. Murray, my 4th grade teacher, gave me an appreciation for books. Every day after lunch, she would do read-aloud time (she especially loved Nancy Drew), and it was my favorite part of the day. My love of reading really took off in fourth grade, which definitely influenced my decision to become an author.

But Mrs. Murray taught me more than that. She taught me how to be confident and proud. She also helped me believe that I could do anything I set my mind to. Today, I try to instill those same things in the students I meet. No matter what their interests or desires are, I try to encourage them to follow their dreams. A teacher did that for me, and it’s the least I can do to keep it going. –Stacy Tornio

Quote of Stacy Tornio


Years of Inspiration

I’ll never forget my third grade teacher, Ms. Brodkey. My parents were going through a divorce, and school felt more like home than my actual home did. Even after I left her class, she kept in touch with me for years and even came to my high school graduation. I recently finished my college degree in teaching, and I believe I owe a lot of that to her. Now in my own career, I hope I can touch someone as deeply as she did to me. –Brandi Brown 

Quote of Brandi Brown

Share a story of an educator that influenced your life in the comments below.