The Power of Making a Difference

ABC Do you remember your first teacher?

How about the first teacher to make a difference in your life?

I remember both.

I have a unique perspective.  My mom was an elementary school teacher.  I grew up in an elementary school, early summer and late summer meant the smell of chalk dust, freshly washed blackboards, the plastic-fresh-paper-rubber-crisp smell of brand new books and the sharp joy of hearing that CRACK as you snapped open the binding for the first time.

I grew up creating bulletin boards and organizing the cabinets and desks of elementary school classrooms.

I grew up watching men and women who were driven to teach, whose purpose in life it was to make a difference and I saw those who weren’t.  I saw those who were in it for the paycheck and the “easy schedules”.  I also saw who returned year after year after to year to set up their classrooms in un-airconditioned buildings.  Those two groups, were worlds apart.

I have seen first hand the difference between a teacher who is passionate about teaching, educating, making an impact, leaving a lasting impression on a child’s mind and heart and a teacher who’s teaching because that job provides the best vacation schedule.

Do you want to know the easiest way to tell which teachers are which?

Go to your child’s meet the teacher night and watch.  Take your child to school the first week of school and walk around a bit, watch.

Those teachers who have the passion, who are driven to share, to educate, to empower to make a difference.  Those teachers are the ones surrounded by past students, those teachers are the ones who are swarmed with hugs and hellos, those teachers are the ones that the parents wait to talk to, to greet, to smile at, to squeeze their hand in thanks, if even for just a moment.

Those are the ones who have more than a job, those are the ones who are living their passion for changing the future.

My mom was one of those teachers.

There was never a time out with my mom when we weren’t stopped by a past student, current student or parent wanting to talk to her, to thank her, to share stories and accomplishments with her, and my mom, she always had time for them.

A teacher’s day is never done, phone calls and now e-mails come in at all hours.  They spend money out of their own pockets to keep the classrooms going, to provide the little extras and sometimes even the necessities. They spend hours creating lesson plans, reading, grading and preparing.  It is not just the 8 to 3 for these amazing life changers; oh no their days can easily start 2 hours before the school bell rings and last until long after their students’ bedtimes.

I could go on and on, I could write about the Kindergarten teacher that my daughter had last year who is a blessing beyond words and a woman I shall cherish always, a woman my daughter still speaks of daily.  I could write about the darling woman who is making Princess’ First Grade Year so special already, a woman who is creative, vibrant, funny, passionate and sweet; who leaves her own little baby every day to give my daughter and 17 other students a brighter more passionate future.

But, I won’t because the clock ticks on and the hour grows late.

Instead I’ll share with you a few tidbits of information and then offer you a prize for sticking with me 🙂

I’ve always been inspired by my mom and other teachers and thought often in life that I wanted to be a teacher… Life, however, had other plans for me 😉

When I was contacted by Emily and Cooper aka.. the Motherhood Divas about writing in partnership with the Clorox Power a Brighter Future program, I couldn’t say yes fast enough.  I kind of love Clorox 🙂 and I am tremendously passionate about educators and education.

So many school districts are cutting funding for Arts and Music programs and some are even eliminating PE and recess and to me, that says that we as a society, as parents are failing our children.

It drives me bananas when I see people C&P press releases or contest blurbs or whatnot but this time, I’m doing it.  I couldn’t put this any better and I want to make sure that y’all get the information and see how easy it is to nominate a school, a program. To MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

  • Each year parents hold fundraisers (oh hai.. yes I am PTA Vice President and Fundraising Chair *cough*) to keep enrichment programs in schools. Now there’s another way to raise money for your child’s school: Power A Bright Future, created by the Clorox Company, will help brighten kids’ futures with school grants to help fund critical programs. Parents and teachers can help kids continue to learn and play by nominating their school programs for a Power A Bright Future grant from the Clorox Company.
  • Since 1980, Clorox has donated $80 million to non-profit organizations and community programs with a focus on schools. This year, the company is awarding four grants, totaling $110,000, to help fund school programs that will brighten and enrich the lives of kids.
  • There are multiple ways to participate and win. In addition to nominating your school and voting, participants have the chance to win a variety of daily prizes including supplies for your school and coupons for Clorox® Disinfecting Wipes, Clorox® Regular-Bleach and Clorox2.
  • As part of the Power A Bright Future grant program, Clorox is seeking nominations for school programs for a chance to win a $50,000 grand-prize grant or one of three $20,000 grants to help provide critically needed resources to school programs that enrich kids’ lives and create brighter futures. In November, four schools will be chosen to receive grants and the opportunity to impact the lives of children in their communities.
  • ·   To nominate a new or existing school program, visit www.Clorox.com from August 12 to September 27, 2010 and choose the category that best represents your idea.
  • The three categories include: Learn, Play or Create. Upload a photo and a short summary of how the grant would make a difference, for example:
  1. Learn:Education-focused programs (e.g. establishing a school recycling program)
  2. Play:Sports and exercise-focused programs (e.g. building a playground)
  3. Create: Arts-focused programs (e.g. funding an after-school music program)
  • ·Nominators will receive exclusive Clorox classroom tools and the chance to win coupons for Clorox® Disinfecting Wipes, Clorox® Regular-Bleach and other great prize packs daily.
  • Once the nomination period has closed, we will leave the voting up to you. Between October 4 and November 1, be sure to vote for your favorite nominee. To encourage votes for their entries, nominators will receive a “Promote-it!” kit with tips on how to encourage votes, like sharing on Facebook and an e-mail for friends and family members.


I know that was a TON of information but I sincerely hope that y’all read it, thank you for sticking with me and I hope that you have clicked the link and made your nominations and asked your friends to do the same.

So, here’s the deal.  YES, I am receiving a compensation for participating and writing this post. The money will go back into my daughter’s school.  I’m going to use it to purchase extra supplies and probably a bit of it to cook up some goodies for the wonderful people who work at my daughter’s school (and my son’s pre-school, too!)

However, I do have a Clorox Power a Bright Future Gift Pack to give away!!!

It includes:

  • Clorox Disinfecting Wipes
  • Dr. Harley Rotbart’s book Germ Proof Your Kids
  • Clorox Hand Sanitizer
  • Tissues
  • Fun stickers
  • Crazy cutting scissors
  • Markets/pencils/crayons

Here’s how to enter:

  • I want to know your best memory of the educator (teacher, coach, principal, counselor, secretary) that made the biggest impact in your life (MANDATORY)
  • BONUS: tweet this and leave in a separate comment

This contest runs from Sept 2nd 11:30 PM CST to Sept 5th, 2010 6 PM CST

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  1. My favorite teacher was my high school poetry teacher. His name was Mr. D and he drove a motorcycle to school and wore jeans which in our conservative small town, was very impressive, to me anyways. He really taught me how to write descriptively. And, to edit. Later, I went on to win my college’s poetry contest. So, I think he left me with some skills. He also left me with the impression if you really were passionate about something you should continue to pursue it and keep working at it. Great life skills. And, great for poetry too.
    Great post, Rachel
    ~Chris Ann

  2. The teacher who influenced me the most was my fourth grade math teacher, Mrs. Patsos. She was incredibly encouraging, and taught me many things. I liked her so much that I used to pretend not to understand things so that I could stay inside with her at recess. I will never forget how she encouraged me, and helped me gain self-confidence.

  3. His name was Dade Wall. He was my 8th grade English teacher. Besides having a cool name, he loved and cared about us students. He made us laugh. He showed us the fun in our native language. He inspired us to write.

    He taught us that diagramming sentences was fun (and not merely useful). To this day I have yet to meet anyone who loves diagramming sentences as much as me. Most kids think diagramming sentences is a horrible, boring task and they dread it. But Mr. Wall taught us the importance of it and how it would help us become better writers. I cherish him to this day and thank him for giving me the confidence to write.

  4. My favorite teacher of all time was Mrs. Rizor. She was old when I was in her 3rd grade class in 1993. It was the first time I’d ever made a C or a D. I didn’t make the best grades in her class, but I know I held a special place in her heart, as did all her students. She pushed us. She knew we could do better. She expected our best, and wouldn’t give an A for anything less than that. She taught my little 8 year old self so many strong and eduring values. Even as a high school student, way too cool for so many childhood things, I’d still hop on over to the Elementary school to tell Mrs. Rizor hi. Mrs. Rizor passed away a few years ago, but her legacy lives on in all her students.

    I sincerely hope and pray my daughters can have a teacher like Mrs. Rizor one day. Someone who will push them, teach them what work really means.

  5. I grew up in a family of public educators. And, blessedly enough despite the 8 different schools I attended, received a quality education because of some extraordinary educators. I could list about 7 different teachers who were spectacular and made a huge difference in my life. But, the one that sticks out the most is my Government teacher from high school, Mrs. Bigham.

    Mrs. Bigham made history and government come alive for her students. We held a mock election with polling booths, a moot court with judges and lawyers and defendants, studied the history and founding fathers that created our government, along with studying the governments of other nations to better understand why ours was created as it is. She inspired me to become a teacher. While I’m not there yet, having children delayed my plan a few years, I still talk to her and thank her every time I’m home. She was a fantastic teacher who pushed students to do their best and made a seemingly ‘drab’ subject come alive.

  6. Ok, I am commenting not because this is a giveaway, but I have to tell you what an awesome post this is.

    I am a high school teacher in an at-risk school district. I buy EVERYTHING in my classroom. I buy pencils, paper, folders, binders, and more so that my students can have what other students have.

    I don’t do this because it’s glamorous or because I get a “sweet vacation schedule”. My husband is known to tell naysayers that his wife works more in 9 months than most people do in a full year. (he is awesome and way supportive). No, I do it because teaching CHOSE me.

    I had some amazing teachers growing up. My band director in particular encouraged me to find my talents and use them. My English teacher senior year helped me know that my talent was English. But the most influential teachers I’ve had are my students. They teach me to be patient, understanding, compassionate, and accepting. They have helped smile when I don’t want to. They have taught me what a positive attitude is really about.

    Keep supporting education, my dear. We need more cheerleaders like you out there for us!

  7. I had a teacher in 10th grade that would spend part of his summer taking a group of his students on European tours. My classmates and I had such a great time and after touring all day he would still hang out with us and showed us some of the cool off the tour parts of Europe.

  8. I am always excited to see and hear about young teachers who are passionate about teaching children. It is truly one career that no one should stay in if they are not dedicated to it; it’s too hard and pays too little. One must enter this field only if they wish to pass on a love of learning to future generations. My biggest passion was passing along my love of books and the joy of reading and turning children into lifetime readers. After 30 years of teaching and 5 years of retirement, I still find that I can’t stay out of the schools. I taught elementary art today and will be teaching 1st grade for the next 3 weeks. It’s the children who keep me coming back. Where else will I get hugs in greeting from children who I don’t even know? I love seeing firsthand the innocence, excitement, and joy these children willingly share. Great post, Rachel. Princess and Monkey’s teachers are so fortunate to have all of the support you give to them.

  9. I had always struggled with math as I am sure many people do. However, in 5th grade, I had a teacher who explained things so well that it was like a lightbulb going off in my head. Suddenly all the equations madde sense and word problems weren’t problems anymore. I went on to higher level math classes in college and I will always owe it all to her.

  10. I am very proud that my husband is one of those beloved by students educators! He’s certainly not in it for the money–he is a mathematician with most of a PhD and could be making triple somewhere else. But he LOVES to teach and I love that it makes him happy. It’s so fun to go to campus and see how the students talk to him and are so excited to see his family.

    My favorite teacher was Mrs. Titus, in 4th grade. She told the whole class I was going to be a writer someday. That meant the world to me, and it still does.

  11. I’m not commenting to enter the contest so don’t count me in. I just wanted to say what a lovely tribute you wrote to your Mom and about the teaching profession.

    I also want to say how shameful I feel about all the cutbacks that have taken place over the years in education both here in Canada and in the States.

    You can’t ask someone to build you a home without the proper tools, why do we expect educators to properly educate our children without providing them with the tools they need to do so?

    Also, going onto University has become so ridiculously expensive and our young people are coming out with no only a degree they can carry the rest of their lives, but some are also burdened down with years of student loan debts. Something is very wrong with the educational systems in our countries.

    You truly have to admire and respect both the educators and those being educated who choose to stick with it.

  12. This is the easiest contest I ever entered, because i think of this teacher every day. EVERY DAY. Mr. Michael Green. He was my senior English teacher. He pulled me aside and told me if i didn’t become a writer I was crazy. The last assignment I wrote for him, he photocopied and put in the box of every teacher and staff member. I was in the last English class before he retired. I want so bad to find him, to tell him what he did for me, and my confidence, and, well, my career.

    Last year I sent a 3 page letter to all six Michael Greens in the phone book.

    No response.

    I am still looking.

  13. The teacher I remember the most was my high school English teacher, Mrs. Wiggington. I attended the same high school my mother did, and she also had Mrs. W as her teacher. I was constantly called “Nancy” in class (my mom’s name), but I found it endearing. She fired a love in me for literature, for reading for the love of words. I ran into her when I was a senior in college, and I took the opportunity to thank her. I was touched by how moved she was by my gratitude. If there is ever a chance as an adult to thank a favorite teacher, it will make her/his day.

  14. Mrs. Knueven. Band–6th-8th grade. Loved her. Loved how she challenged me to do anything and everything. Loved how she dealt with a miscarriage with grace and dignity. (hated the miscarriage, though)

  15. This post was amazing!!!

    My favorite teacher was Mrs, Kelleher in first grade. I remember her looking like a princess, which is funny because having seen pictures years later, she didn’t at all. But, to me she was magical. I had the chicken pox and was out for 2 weeks. She came to my house with a basket filled with books and games and treats and it was pretty much the best thing ever.

  16. ive always have this one teacher i remembered, and love. he was so funny, yet we(his students) respect him. maybe its d way he teaches(his approaches n style) that makes us feels close to him. yeah, he is d kind u would always find when u went to ur old school.

    my sister, whom a teacher, tells a story of another teacher, who was more of alike in ur story, those who teach, because of the benefits of being a teacher. and not because they simply love being one. and its so sad and annoying, which in a way, d impacts is on the students. poor them aint it? wasnt teacher should be d one who correct our wrongdoing? yet this one make it seems like he is a student.

    p/s-just to share it with u

  17. Sadly, I took my kid out of public school b/c her last teacher was a woman that was a disaster and yet some of the kids did stop her class in the beginning of the year to hug her. to this day, I will never know why.

    I think this is a great idea and I support you a 100 percent of the way.

  18. I still remember the seventh grade teacher, Mrs. Drake, that gave me an F because she believed I copied my work. When I moved away from that school I worked harder than hard and found a teacher that appreciated what I could do. Mr. Lurkhe. I sent Mrs. Drake a copy of the first time my name was published in the school newspaper,

    Thia was a great post and brought back good memories.

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