Teacher Appreciation Week is certainly cause for celebration, and though we IXLers are no longer in school, many of us have been lucky enough to be taught by educators who made a lasting impact on our lives. Read on for heartwarming stories about IXLers’ favorite teachers!
|All of the teachers that I’ve had were pretty wonderful, however the one that stands out the most is my 5th grade teacher, Ms. Binley. I was nervous on my first day of 5th grade, but Ms. Binley made us all feel instantly welcome. She was warm, kind, and she cared about each and every one of us so deeply. While all of the other 5th grade classrooms were forced to memorize the state capitols, Ms. Binley had us write and publish our first books. I’ve always loved reading, but Ms. Binley made me fall in love with it even more and I will be forever grateful to her for that. Her love of historical fiction is one of the reasons I decided to major in History while in college. On our last day of school, Ms. Binley got emotional as she told us individually what she loved about us and how much she would miss us. No teacher I had before or after ever did that. I don’t know where Ms. Binley is now, but I’d like to thank her for having such a positive impact on my 5th grade self. Thank you, Ms. Binley.
—Stephanie Stillman, Operations Coordinator
|I would like to pay tribute to my high school calculus teacher, Mr. Galen Reimer. He taught with great precision and clarity, making a difficult topic accessible to teenagers. He was usually rather formal, wearing a suit and tie every day. It is the times that he broke with convention that stand out most in my mind. On the days we studied the concepts of the limit of a function or the limit of a sequence, Mr. Reimer brought in a tape player (I’m dating myself here!) into the classroom and put it on his desk. At the point in a lesson when he would say, “Now, we will take this function to the limit,” he would press a button and play part of an old song by the 1970’s band, The Eagles, titled “Take It to the Limit.” At first, we students thought this was the silliest thing ever. But after a few repetitions we started to appreciate how well it fit. Perhaps music could not only lighten the mood, but also help us more richly understand the concept of “approaching the extreme.” To this day, whenever I hear the phrase “take the limit,” snippets of that old Eagles tune play in my head!
—Christine Kiekhaefer, Senior Curriculum Designer, Math
|Growing up, my family had no money for “extras.” One time our privations included not being able to pay for the International Baccalaureate exams during my senior year of high school. I spent some stressful days trying to figure out where to get the money. Not taking these exams would waste years of work I’d spent preparing for them. Then, one day, the director of the program at the school (as well as my sophomore English teacher and school newspaper adviser) told me that she took care of it. I didn’t ask where the money came from, but I suspect she paid it herself. What a relief it was! Doing well on those tests was equivalent to a year’s worth of credits at the private college that I attended. However much that was worth, the greater gift was the indebtedness I felt for her kindness. My teachers’ passion and sacrifice inspired me in so many ways: As a way to pay them back, I’ve volunteered at a summer academy to get kids who are falling behind caught up to their grade level. I spent another couple weeks in Kigali, Rwanda physically building an elementary school. As a math graduate student I volunteered to teach first-generation college students whose parents had not gone to college. Even now as a software engineer, I work at IXL Learning, a company dedicated to improving education. To Mrs. Gammell and all those teachers on whose giant shoulders I now stand: thank you, thank you, thank you!
—Jiho Kim, Senior Software Engineer
|My favorite teacher was Mrs. Harper, my high school English teacher. She inspired me to major in English and I enjoyed being her teaching assistant as well. Nine years ago I moved back to the same town I grew up in, and after moving into our home, discovered that Mrs. Harper lives on the same street! The only problem is it’s hard to get used to calling her by her first name! Thank you Mrs. Harper, for being a wonderful teacher and a great neighbor too!
—Karen Bettucchi, Director of Customer Success
|I doubt anyone who attended elementary school in my town in the last thirty years has forgotten their fifth grade teacher. It’s always been Mr. J, and as far as I know, he’s always been outstanding. Students will remember Mr. J’s end-of-the-year field trip: three days on the Oregon coast. For a 10-year-old, such a trip would be memorable even if it were done poorly, but Mr. J does it really well. The trip comes after months of in-class preparation where students study coastal animals and ecosystems.When I was last at home, I ran into Mr. J, and he told me about his class’s activities at the salmon acclimation pond in our town. I remember going there when I was in his class. This year, his class will have a tank of salmon eggs hatch in the classroom. The students will watch them grow until they’re ready to be transferred to the pond. There, hatchlings will grow until they’re ready to be released into the river system. The acclimation pond is unique resource in our town, and I was so excited to hear about how Mr. J is using it to enrich his students’ study of science. I vividly remember the fifth grade field trip where we dissected a squid and went to the tide pools, and it sounds like Mr. J’s class has only gotten better since then!
—Hannah Moser, Senior Curriculum Designer, Social Studies
|My favorite teacher was my high school physics teacher Dr. Martino, who is one of the most passionate, high-energy people I have ever met. Not only could she muster exuberance for any topic, she was also an expert at breaking down complicated ideas so that they were simple for students to understand. A longtime Beatles fan, Dr. Martino would rewrite the lyrics of classics like “Let it Be” and “Eleanor Rigby” so that the songs explained physics principles. It was always a treat to hear her sing for us in class, and I can still remember many of the choruses. Dr. Martino came in hours before school started every morning to help the kids who were struggling. She also devoted a considerable amount of time towards engaging the advanced students, distributing tough “Challenge Problems” for extra credit and spending her lunch hour coaching the Physics Competition Team. Before high school, I’d had zero exposure to physics. Nevertheless, Dr. Martino’s passion instilled a real curiosity in me, and I was always motivated to work extra hard in her class. By spring of that school year, I had joined the Physics Competition Team and was excelling in statewide competitions.
—Andrea D’Souza, Search Engine Marketing Analyst
|A strong, tall woman with a commanding presence, Mrs. Stunkel’s confidence and grace in dealing with students and parents kept everyone in class feeling calm, safe, and welcome. For me, Mrs. Stunkel had endless patience, and seemed to truly believe that I could do anything. At one point in the school year, I had to give a presentation to the class as Abigail Adams. Costumes were required, as well as videotaping of each student’s presentation. Right as the video recording started, I froze and couldn’t remember any of my lines. The class laughed uproariously, and I ran out of the classroom. Mrs. Stunkel had the opportunity to give me a low score and move on to the next presenter. Instead, she asked if I would feel more comfortable on camera if I could give my presentation after school. I couldn’t believe the accommodation she made just for me! I gave the presentation after school and without the pressure of my classmates watching, I remembered my lines and felt satisfied with my performance. Overall, Mrs. Stunkel showed patience, kindness, and understanding to every student. She never once raised her voice, and made the success of all students in her class a top priority. It is largely due to her influence that I became a teacher, and specifically taught fifth grade.
—Kelly Oh, Professional Learning Specialist
As Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world.” From all of us at IXL, thank you to teachers everywhere for making a difference every day!