Heartfelt Appreciation for our Favorite Teachers, Past, Present and Future
May 5, 2020
It didn’t take long for the heartfelt sentiments to flow when I asked my colleagues on the Education and Public Affairs teams at Finn Partners to share appreciation for their favorite teachers. For most people, memories of teachers from years’ past will come back at random moments, in the form of a habit they instilled in our writing or a moral cue or a reminder of a particularly poignant lesson that still resonates.
We don’t need to wait for the annual Teacher Appreciation Day or other commemorative moments to find a reason to thank an educator who taught us something that still matters, or shaped who we are personally or professionally (or in the case of those of us who attended Catholic or other religious schools, spiritually).
The “Thank You” notes my colleagues drafted to honor these teachers have similar themes, regardless of when or where they went to school. And whether we recognized at the time, we now know for sure that the high standards or unwavering discipline at the time ultimately set us on the path to success.
So here I share these Thank You notes to teachers, some perhaps still in the classroom and others long retired. We hope they have always known they were appreciated, or that some day their lessons would inspire that Aha! moment.
Dear Mrs. Kriftcher,
I cannot quite explain the thrill it was to find your name listed as a Master Teacher and Coach for the New York Leadership Academy while working on a project for a client. All these years after my time in your Honors English class, it makes complete sense you would be guiding the next generation of educators to inspire their students. Whether it was debating Nathaniel Hawthorne’s portrayal of Hester Pryne or what Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau chatted about out on Walden Pond, you brought big ideas to life for us in ways that were relatable to our own life and times. You helped give shape and voice to my own unique hyphenated American identity in a school so diverse we called ourselves the mini-UN. Modest gratitude is not enough for what you have meant to me and so many others, but thank you, always. Marina Stenos for Bernadette Kriftcher, 11th Grade English teacher, Newtown High School, Elmhurst, N.Y.
Dear Mrs. Klase,
During Teacher Appreciation Week, it is important to remember and appreciate teachers that challenged you. I thank you for encouraging me and the rest of the Class of 2015 to welcome challenges into our lives. Your passion for government and civic duty inspired me to follow politics in my personal and professional life, especially in 2016 at the cusp of one of our nation’s most important elections. Thank you for sparking heated debates during classroom hours instead of burying our noses in texts and for always playing devil’s advocate. As you always said, “No one makes you smarter than your opposition.” Madeline Carzon for Catherine Klase, 12th Grade AP Government teacher, Archbishop Spalding High School, Severn, Md.
Dear Usteza Shereen,
Shookran for the many lessons over the years. In my first class, you asked us what we observed of our book. Someone said, “The book is backwards.” You smiled and said, “No, your books are backwards.” In that moment, I knew I would learn more than Arabic from you. Thank you for your humor, kindness and willingness to fight hard for us to be successful but allowing us the room to make mistakes. Thanks for these lessons and many more. Allison Parker-Lagoo for Shereen Elgamal, Arabic professor, Elon University, Elon, N.C.
Dear Sister Elizabeth Bartholomew,
I never equated school with joy, however your 6th grade class provided fundamentals that remain. Yes, you were rigorous and disciplined, but also balanced and every now and then allowed us to see your sense of humor. Fairness was paramount and I recall your concern for one of our classmates who had a difficult family life. When he was out of the classroom one day, you made it clear we would experience your wrath if we ever teased him or offended him due to his circumstances. One of the many thoughtful life lessons you taught me. Margaret Dunning for Sister Elizabeth Bartholomew, 6th grade teacher, Sacred Heart School, western Massachusetts
Dear Mrs. Stelter,
Thank you for showing me how to stay curious, ask questions and always keep learning. You taught by example and inspired your students with your passion and dedication. Thank you for being such an amazing teacher. Morgan Livingston for Susan Stelter, 5th grade teacher, Pacific Elementary School, Manhattan Beach, Calif.
Dear Sister Joan,
Your reputation as the toughest, strictest teacher St. Saviour High had to offer preceded you before I ever stepped into your classroom. And yes, your classes were some of the hardest I have ever taken. And I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t use the skills you taught me sophomore through senior years. Because of you, I am a better writer, a better reader and a better critical thinker. You were hands down the best teacher I ever had, and I don’t know if I ever got to tell you that. So, thank you, for everything. Brianne O’Donnell for Sister Joan Dineen, SSND, Honors and AP English teacher, St. Saviour High School, Brooklyn, N.Y.
The best advice I got from a teacher was to not overthink what lay ahead for me and to put myself in a position where opportunities would come to me. “Just move to a big city, jobs will find you.” Sarah Mars Bowie for Professor Jonas Zoninsein, James Madison College, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Mich.
And thanks to all the teachers out there, past, present and future, who work so tirelessly to prepare the day’s lesson and to have a lasting impact on their students—especially today.