Yesterday while unloading 1/2 pints of school milk, I noticed the side of the carton asking kids to nominate their teacher for "Teacher of the Year".
As a student of six different (seven it you count going to one 2 different times) schools, I have had my share of teachers. Most were OK, several had no business in the profession, and 3 were outstanding.
As a young boy who had lost his father this teacher was special to me. He lived on the back side of my block across the open field we all used as our playground. Mr. Stark was elderly and several times he asked if I join he and his wife for dinner. Sometimes I would go over and just talk with him. I can't recall anything we ever talked about and that wasn't really important. Just the fact he was there to listen.
She and her husband were both teachers. He taught History and she taught English. They were in the twilight of long teaching careers and were childless. She made me realize that my poor grades had little to do with my intelligence. She was the one that administered the standardized tests and I always scored a lot better than my grades indicated that I should.
My senior year and in a new school. I was a very scared and angry teenager. I was trying to act tough and not let everyone see my real feelings. Six years after my dad had died, my mom married his younger brother. To make matters worse, I was plunged in a house without a bathroom and a first cousin/step-brother my same age. He was honor student and a nerd. I had always been the quiet (cowed-down) type but at a new school, I could appear to be anything of my choosing. Mrs. Slayton saw thro to the real me and helped me fit in.
These three teachers might or might not have been great classroom (but I think they were) teachers but they possessed the greatest characteristic a teacher can have. They believed in me when I did not believe in myself. That is huge!