Saturday, February 2, 2013

Power of the Teacher

When our son, Paul, was born, our lives were literally flipped upside down! Unfortunately, he was affected by various medical conditions (mostly physical in nature) and during the first few months of his life we struggled with fears about whether he would be able to walk on his own or attend a typical school or possess any amount of self-confidence. Well, he is 8 years old now and I am thrilled to say that he walks on his own, goes to an amazing public school and exudes self-confidence (check out his blog - Paulie's Passions)! Thanks to our incredible support team (family, friends, doctors, therapists, etc.) our son made a lot of progress and developed all the skills he needed to be successful in the first few years of his life but it wasn't until he started school that I realized the power of the teacher(s)!

Yes, I have been in education for over 15 years and I am fortunate enough to have worked with some of the most incredible teachers and educators around (I work with them each day) but until our son went to school I never realized the profound affect a teacher could have on a child. Paul's teachers helped build his self-confidence, helped support him after multiple surgeries, helped him develop new skills and most importantly, they ignited a passion and love for school and learning - thank you Mrs. M., Mrs. T., Mrs. C., Mrs. B., Mr. B. and all the other dedicated educators who continue to affect our son!

Paul talks about himself as an amazing artist because the art teacher in his school has instilled that confidence in him and exposed him to concepts that have changed the way he creates art. Paul talks about himself as an author because of the experiences his teachers have provided him through the Writing Workshop process. Whether he is publishing an "All About..." book or a personal narrative, Paul is excited to share his knowledge, interests and passions! Paul sees himself as a skilled reader because of the Reading Workshop experiences his teachers have created and talks about different genres and text features because of the mini-lessons his teachers offered! Additionally, a couple of months ago, Paul was elected Student Council President of his school and I believe that he had the confidence to pursue this goal because of the support of his amazing teachers (and an awesome campaign manager - his mom)!

After Paul entered Kindergarten, I started to notice all the amazing "little things" the teachers did in our school where I work that might have gone unnoticed in the past. The phone call to a concerned parent to assure them that their child has grown as a reader. The teacher who chose to stay in for lunch so she could eat with a group of students who can't stop smiling and talking about lunch with their teacher. The teacher who gently rubs the shoulder of a specific student during a math test to reassure the child and help alleviate some anxiety. The teacher who started a talent/expert day so that the last 15 minutes of the day are dedicated to children sharing their talents, passions and interests (we have some incredible hula hoopers, pianists and artists in our midst). The teacher who sits in the hallway with one of his students who is having a tough day and just needs an open ear and shoulder to cry on. The teacher who maintains a regular communication notebook/email exchange with a parent to help the parent understand what the child has learned and how they are doing in school because the parent is wrought with anxiety. The teacher who celebrates each student birthday by having the child sit at the front of the class and receive "Verbal Gifts (Compliments)" from his classmates. The teachers who celebrate different Star Students each week and have family members come in during the week to share a book and complete a project or activity!

The list could literally go on and on and on but I think the message is clear... the power of the teacher is AWESOME! I have quickly come to realize that aside from a child's family, a teacher can have the most profound affect on a child and truly shape the trajectory of the child's educational experience and self-perceptions as a learner. The power of a teacher cannot effectively be graded on a 100 point scale; the power of a teacher should not be reduced to a score on a multiple choice test; the power of a teacher is not even tangible at times (see above). Instead, as a society, we must embrace the idea that the power of a (good, great, amazing, etc.) teacher is deep, far reaching and can last a lifetime!


  1. Tony- well said! You are always filled with so many kind words and take the time to tell everyone in your life how much you appreciate all their hard-work and dedication to children and their profession. Paul is one lucky child to have such and amazing dad. We, are so lucky to have a leader that sees us through the good days and the tough days and encourages us to challenge ourselves week after week after week. Keep the compliments coming!
    -Nancy M.

  2. So proud of you and everything you stand for, Koumpare! Your posts are inspiring and never fail to put a smile on my face. You rock, man!

  3. This is a wonderful article and truly depicts the passion and love of everyday teachers who have so much to offer and bring to their students in the classroom. I am so happy to hear that Paul has so many of these teachers in his life. I am proud to have been his first teacher. It was a pleasure having him in my Pre-K class and I know I will never or have never had since, any student quite like Paul. I knew he was smart right from the beginning of the year and had so many talents (like dancing). He has really grown into a wonderful young man and any teacher is lucky to have him as their student. Thank you for writing and sharing this article. It is inspiring and a reminder of why I decided to become a teacher! Ms. Sheri

    1. Thank you so much for the comments Ms. Sheri! Paul will never forget his experiences in your classroom - that year played a huge role in his development! Thank you for creating such a warm and nurturing environment. We were so lucky to have you as one of his teachers in addition to Ms. Bess, his nursery teacher who was also incredibly awesome!


  4. Excellent post Tony! I couldn't agree with you more. The impact teachers make on children is so huge, I don't think we fully grasp the significance of some teacher/student relationships until they get older. We are so so lucky to have amazing professionals at Cantiague. I hope they feel the appreciation and admiration of parents in our community!

  5. Thank you once again for taking the time to speak from your heart. It is very comforting to know that you truly understand and recognize all the little things that we do in our classrooms to help make each day a success for our children. We are all very lucky to have you!

  6. Tony...You are the definition of a bucket filler! Our school is a special place! Paul is lucky to have so many special peoplei in his life!