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Your Favorite Teacher

Do You Remember the Magic?

‘Karen and Jay share thoughts on the amazing impact teachers have on our development and on our later lives’

Were you fortunate enough to have had a very special teacher when you were growing up? Someone who had an amazingly positive impact on your development? A teacher who was so much more than you could ever have imagined? If you did, and I bet you did, I suspect you think back fondly on your time together – and have deep appreciation for the care and devotion of that special person in your life.

I know that I was blessed on the first day of school in Newport, New Hampshire to have as my first-grade teacher, Mrs. Stearns. I absolutely adored her – as did every child in our small class. I had so much admiration for her that even after I had moved on to the second grade and beyond, each year I convinced my parents to go with me to her house just before Christmas and deliver her a present. And I was always touched that she would have a present for me. She would always give me a Hardy Boys book that she would retrieve for me from upstairs. I was so impressed that she had remembered to get a present ‘just for me.’ It was only years later that I realized she had a whole slew of Hardy Boys books specially wrapped for any current or former student – who might just have happened to come by. That’s how much she cared.

At Newport High School, we also had such a wonderful group of dedicated teachers. Perhaps you did at your high school as well. Many of our teachers also doubled as coaches, advisors to clubs and other extracurricular activities. I remember Bill and Calista Thurlow as true models of commitment and passion – investing their energies – pretty much around the clock – with coaching, sports and more – for the students that they taught and cared for.

And it’s heartening to know that the baton has been passed at Newport High School to yet another cadre of dedicated teachers. In fact, last month I had occasion to be attending an event at the school and was fortunate to catch up with one such teacher. Tim Spanos. Tim and the entire Spanos family have been leaders in Newport for generations. Also, very close family friends of mine while growing up. So, it was truly exhilarating to see Tim at the high school - passing knowledge along to Newport’s leaders of the future – committed to the community he loves. In fact, it’s no surprise that as such a caring and devoted teacher, Tim was selected as Newport’s Citizen of the Year this past year.

When you look across America and think about the next generation, the truth is that much of our future is being shaped by our teachers. Increasingly, parents and students are being given more choice in their schools, in their curriculum and importantly, with regards to their teachers as well. In addition to public schools, there are now a growing number of charter schools, private alternatives, and increasingly homeschooling options. While it’s wonderful to see the array of choices now available – and for students to have the opportunity to select the option that will be best for them – one thing will hold true no matter what. We will always be grateful for the wonderful teachers who have helped shape our lives and guide our future. Meanwhile, we look forward to the next generation of teachers who have it in their power to continue this wonderful tradition.

Jon Morton’s Favorite Teachers – One Person’s Experience

Who has had a favorite teacher growing up? Or perhaps better said – who really has not? It seems like everyone has a special teacher they remember. What was it about that particular person that stood out for you at the time, and/or what has been that teacher’s long-lasting impact on your life?

As someone who works with finances and insurance, I educate many of my clients on financial literacy, at various levels. In some cases, it is a simple discussion about how to save money and eliminate debt, in others it involves planning for the next several decades - considering taxes, the stock market, risks and opportunities. My job title is certainly not teacher or educator, though it does play a role in what I do. My sister is a teacher in real life and has been since graduating college.

We were quite fortunate growing up to have our dad's parents as the teachers next door. They were already retired, my grandmother had been an elementary school teacher and my grandfather a superintendent. For the six warmer months each year, they lived in their summer home next door and our public school education was supplemented with their home schooling by default. We learned about nature, sewing, cooking, grammar, and the application of many principles that were theory only in school.

One of my favorite teachers in high school was Mrs. Gormley, who taught typing and business. She was no nonsense in many ways, yet allowed us to play music in typing class, so we weren't imprisoned with the cacophony of keys in what would be one of the last high school class years to use actual typewriters. Her favorite was Aerosmith, which she would bring in on cassette. Second favorite was The Outfield, which I brought in. Aside from the great skills from both of her classes that have served me well for decades, she taught servant leadership by her own example.

It has been said there are no bad students, only bad teachers. I'm not sure that I agree with that in full. Great teachers help inspire their students to want to learn, and even with the best, the final decision to learn must be made by the student. Whether attributed to Buddha or Lao Tzu, and with much debate as to who really originated the quote, it still holds true that "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear."

Jon Morton is a financial planner and co-founder of the Small Town Turnaround initiative.

A Family of Educators

The son of a lifelong educator, the importance of education was all but drilled into me by a father who gave his all to the students of Manchester's Southside Junior High/Middle School. "Mr. Girard'' would teach 8th grade science and serve as vice-principal and principal during his nearly 35-year career.

His first year teaching was the year Southside opened. He gave his professional life to its students. As I made my way around Manchester, I would often be asked if "Mr. Girard from Southside" was my dad. While that gave me an idea of how he had affected so many lives, it was at his wake where his impact really hit home as an impeccably dressed young man tearfully told me how my dad had saved his life.

I was serving on the Manchester School Board at the time; an office I ran for because Manchester needed to do better for its kids. What the schools lacked is what my dad made his top priority: A focus on the kids. It's the hallmark of any great educator and I was determined to be "that voice" on the board.

My family's involvement with education includes my wife. She's a teacher. While she didn't formally step foot in a classroom until 5 years ago, she homeschooled our kids as we looked for schools in which they could thrive. We tried charter schools, private schools, Catholic schools and public schools until we found the right fit for our five children. It wasn't easy but we made, and continue to make it work for our kids.

In my wife, I see the same dedication to serving the best interests of the child as I saw in my dad. I see the changing circumstances, the family situations, and educational needs she addresses every day. Like my dad and the truly great educators, she meets kids and families where they're at. It's hard work but she happily does it and I see the difference it makes for those kids.

Rich Girard is a longtime leader in Manchester and currently, executive in charge of Sunshine Communications

Positive Profile of the Week: Glenn Cordelli

This week we are delighted to highlight a public servant who has been a true leader in the field of education – Glenn Cordelli.

Glenn is a State Representative from New Hampshire who serves as Vice Chair on the House Education Committee. He is a champion for all children, advocating for them to find the best educational path that suits their individual needs. He believes in public education and providing equal opportunity for all students, regardless of background or financial ability.

Cordelli has worked hard to ensure that all New Hampshire children have access to quality education. He has supported legislation to expand career and technical education and provide funding for public schools.

In addition to his work on the House Education Committee, Cordelli has been a strong advocate for small business owners and has supported legislation to help them succeed. He has also been an advocate for civil liberties, working to ensure that all citizens of New Hampshire have the right to freedom of speech, religion, and assembly.

Cordelli has been recognized for his work in the legislature by The School District Governance Association of New Hampshire and the New Hampshire Business and Industry Association. He has earned a reputation as a leader on important issues, and his work for the people of New Hampshire has been widely praised. Glenn, we thank you for all that you do!

Quotes of the Week: Favorite Teacher

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”

– Benjamin Franklin

“I cannot teach anybody anything; I can only make them think.”

– Socrates

“If you are planning for a year, sow rice; if you are planning for a decade, plant trees; if you are planning for a lifetime, educate people.”

– Chinese Proverb

“What sculpture is to a block of marble, education is to a human soul.”

– Joseph Addison

“Education breeds confidence. Confidence breeds hope. Hope breeds peace.”

– Confucius


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