Who’s Your Hero?

Teacher Appreciation Week

By Rachael George

Teacher Appreciation WeekHeroes come in all shapes and sizes. When I think back to those who have made a difference in my life, it always comes back to the teachers. They were there when I needed to be pushed; they encouraged me to persevere; they taught me to take risks; and they helped pick me up when I fell short of the finish line.

Although everyone has a bad day once in a while, it means a lot when a teacher notices. I can distinctly remember having a particularly challenging day and being on the verge of tears when I returned to my desk to a handwritten note from my 5th grade teacher. While I was in music class, she had taken the time to write me a short note asking if I was OK and letting me know that if I needed to talk, she was available. To this day, I am not sure if I ever took her up on the offer to talk, but the fact that she noticed and reached out meant the world to me. Her kind words and the fact she realized I was struggling helped encourage me to persevere and make it through the day. Here’s to the teachers that work to build positive connections with their students on a daily basis.

In high school, I can distinctly remember the fear that crippled me as I realized the only available elective for the upcoming semester was auto mechanics. I had just received my driver’s license, and I didn’t have a clue about how my car worked. I asked my dad for help—particularly how to open the hood of my old diesel Mercedes—and his response to me was to read the manual. He wasn’t a lot of help, and I wasn’t too keen on being the only female in an auto mechanics when I couldn’t even pop the hood to check my oil level. From the first day of class, I was in over my head. The topics of discussion, let alone the objects they were talking about, were completely foreign to me. I had two choices at this point: fake that I had a clue and let the boys do the work for me or stand up and ask questions. Although I really would have liked to have gone with option one, my teacher pushed me to engage, ask questions, and seek clarification. Option two was scary, as I was in a class with upper classmen that knew what they were doing, and my questions were so basic that they often busted out laughing at me. It was intimidating and scary, but my teacher taught me to take risks and reminded me it was the only way that I would learn. Here’s to the teachers that encourage risk taking and make it safe to do so.

Here’s to the teachers that pick kids up when they fall short. Here’s to the teachers that are not only astute in the delivery of their content but also aware of those students that are silently struggling or disengaging because of whatever social fear or anxiety grasps them. Here’s to the teachers that are aware of and in tune with the needs of their students. They deserve the accolades and awards.

So here is a shout out to all of our heroes in education that make a difference every day. You are changing lives and impacting the future.

To show our appreciation, check out these inspiring free ASCD resources for teachers.


Rachael George is a member of the ASCD Emerging Leaders Class of 2015 and currently serves as the principal of Sandy Grade School in the Oregon Trail School District. Prior to serving as an elementary school principal, George was a middle school principal of an “outstanding” and two-time “Level 5: Model School,” as recognized by the State of Oregon. George specializes in curriculum development and instructional improvement, working with at-risk students, and closing the achievement gap. Connect with George on Twitter @runnin26.