March 12, 2014
I remember the day clearly. I was in eighth grade and at that awkward stage trying to figure out who I was and who I wanted to be. My language arts teacher, Mrs. Streit, pulled me aside and asked me why I wasn’t trying harder. I had been doing well in the class, so I wasn’t sure what she meant. She explained that she knew I could be a great writer, but I wasn’t putting the effort in. We had a creative writing assignment every week and she asked that I just think more deeply and spend more time with that week’s assignment. She said she was excited to read what she knew I could write.
So, I took her advice. Instead of waiting until the last minute, I did as she asked. That week, the class voted my story the best in the class, something I had never won before. With newfound confidence, I put in the effort every week and won many times after that. A passion was ignited.
That teacher had more confidence in me than I had in myself and she knew just what to do to bring it out. From that moment on, I took pride in my writing and always put the effort in.
Look at me today—writing. In every job I’ve ever had (well, maybe except the movie theater candy counter) I’ve been tapped to write, and I couldn’t be happier. Would I be in this same place without that one special teacher pointing me in this direction? I don’t know for sure but I’m guessing my life might be different. Mrs. Streit mattered because I mattered to Mrs. Streit.
How much of whom we all are can be traced back to a special teacher, or maybe a bunch of them? I can remember the names of every teacher I had from kindergarten through 12th grade. I can point out many, many times one of them made a difference in my life.
I look at my daughter, this amazingly confident, smart young woman who was brave enough to go to college across the ocean just a month after turning 18 years old. I know the very idea that she could do something so different and so perfect for her started from a spark lit by her English teacher, Mr. Vickers. How different would her life be if not for the luck of landing in his class?
If you went to school in Michigan, the chances are pretty high that at least one of your teachers went to school at Michigan State. If any of them were Spartans, chances are also very strong that they were exceptional. MSU’s College of Education is top notch. Just this week, U.S. News & World Report ranked MSU No. 1 in both elementary and secondary education on the graduate level for the 20th consecutive year. Twenty years? That’s an incredible record for an incredible college.
Mark Helmsing, doctoral candidate and instructor in MSU’s Curriculum, Instruction and Teacher Education program, is one of those outstanding graduate students. In his FACULTY VOICE: Teaching the Teachers, he talks about the great work going on in the college, where he works with scholars passionately in love with teaching teachers.
Lakeya Omogu found herself back at MSU after earning her degree in elementary education and working for Teach for America. Recognizing that she felt something missing from her skills, she came back to the university to complete the full-year teaching internship. Watch her video and read her STUDENT VIEW: Preparation.Growth.Integrity. to learn more about her experiences.
I think it’s fascinating to learn about students’ paths to success—to go behind the scenes and look at life experiences. That’s why I’m really looking forward to this year’s MSU President’s Report. Some of you might remember that last year we went big—globally big—and focused the report on MSU’s impact all around the world.
This year, we’re turning things inside out. What’s it like to be an undergraduate student at MSU? We’re taking a look at it from way inside as we followed nine students for an entire semester and filmed their experiences. Even cooler? The filmmakers were also undergraduate students.
The footage is being turned into a 30-minute documentary that will be this year’s report, Inside Out. Check out this page to get a sneak peek at the students. Starting tomorrow, we’ll be releasing one student’s video preview a day on the page until all of them are revealed when the website and video launches on March 27. These students are all different, and all pretty wonderful. I think you’ll love getting to know them.
I’m guessing each one of them probably has a few teachers in their lives who helped them find their paths and made a difference.
Henry Adams once said, “A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.”
Thanks to MSU’s College of Education and the wonderful teachers who teach and study there, it looks like Spartans will be influencing the world for a very long time.
Photo by G.L. Kohuth