Great Teachers light the way to the future at the ringing of every school bell. I remember wondering who had rung the small brass school bell with a black, wooden handle – the bell that sat austerely in my grandmother’s China cabinet alongside ornate chocolate sets and iridescent carnival glass.
Before Emily Drienhoffer Gorman and Bill Gorman sold their retirement home, I was privileged to hear the story of the bell. Grace Parson Drienhoffer began teaching in Ranger, Texas inside the walls of the original Ranger schoolhouse. The Depression menaced her husband’s grocery and banking businesses and forced the mother of six into the workforce. What was launched from necessity, however, became a legendary life’s calling for my great grandmother. That little bell rang proudly for generations of students whose lives were touched fortuitously by the hands of a great teacher. 5 Great Teachers On What Makes a Great Teacher
Great Teachers Have Skills and Heart with Children
Teacher Appreciation Week is May 2-6, 2022. During my years in education, I have enjoyed the honor of working with many great teachers whose skills and heart compared favorably to Grace’s. I discovered one such educator in a diverse sixth grade English Language Arts class which was packed to overflowing during every period of the day. Challenges aside, the indomitable spirit of Diane Harris never missed a beat. I suspect that Diane has not failed to keep up with the pace for the entirety of her 42 years in the classroom. The literature she used as a teaching vehicle took on a life of its own in Diane’s classroom, and her learners all contributed to discussions, projects, and activities. They may not all have learned to the same depth or breadth of the instruction, but each one of them learned even more valuable lessons.
Feeding the Fire with a Good Book
Diane’s skills have taken a lifetime to nurture. Even as a child, her play took her into her “own classroom where she shared her passion for teaching with her “students.” When asked about when she became interested in teaching, she replied, “ I can remember as far back as when I was around four or five years old playing school with my dolls and stuffed animals. I have always loved to read and I would read to “my class” after school. Reading took me and introduced me to people from different time periods and places.
I have always had a vivid imagination and I could read for days on end and be amazed at the beauty of books.” Having excellent role models has long been considered essential in molding professional and classroom behaviors. Diane’s sixth-grade teacher, Mr.Brown, had no way to foresee the harvest of the seeds he planted in Diane’s heart. His love of books is also shadowed in Diane’s classroom. Mr. Brown’s understanding of the importance of respecting the authentic interests of his students is also apparent in Diane’s sixth-grade classes. He let his students play records and dance in much the same way that Ms. Harris uses student interests in selecting activities and building units for her classroom.
Great Teachers Have Passion for Teaching
In spite of the intense demands of teaching, Diane has managed to be a phenomenal teacher by keeping a balance of her personal and professional life. This veteran freely admits that data, testing, and administrative requirements have complicated the quest for relaxation and recreation. However, without the balance of family and friends, Diane would find the pressures of teaching an impossibility.
One ingredient is required for her enthusiasm for the classroom — her students. She confesses, “ I have been blessed to be able to teach sixth graders for the last 22 of 42 years. They are my heart and soul! I love the conversations we have, the relationships that have been built and my passion for teaching is still on the front burner. I have to remember that loving students is the number one priority for this profession.”
The Wisdom of a Great Teacher
Reflecting on her most memorable moments of teaching, Ms. Harris borrowed a sage quote. “Life is a series of thousands of tiny little miracles. Notice them”. She has taught well over a thousand students and found that each one of them has been her “tiny little miracle.” What better lesson can any child bring home from school?
Great Teachers Hold Keys to Future
Great Teachers hold many keys to the future of us all. They can make the love of learning in a child a lifelong endeavor. Educators can feed curiosity for life and a love of reading that takes students across time, places, cultures, and ideas. Teachers like Diane Harris help the “tiny little miracles in their classroom” discover that they are, indeed, miraculous. Great teachers light the way to the future at the ringing of every school bell. We heartily thank you for illuminating the hearts and minds of our greatest resource—our children.