It’s Teacher Appreciation Week — a time to celebrate the amazing educators across the country who work tirelessly to challenge, support, and nurture our youngest generations.

Great teachers have immense impact on student outcomes and inspire students long after they leave the classroom. Second to parents, teachers are the most important part of a child’s education. Teachers who authentically engage their students leave meaningful, lifelong impacts. According to an ING Foundation survey, 88% of people say that a teacher has had a “significant, positive impact” on their life.

Unfortunately, educators are often undervalued and undercompensated. Even still, despite low teacher salaries, 94% of public school teachers spend their own money on classroom supplies at an average of $479 without reimbursement.

So while teachers continue to fight for the compensation they deserve, Ed Trust wants to take this moment to appreciate those teachers who have touched our lives. These are the outstanding educators who have shaped an entire generation of leaders, thinkers, and advocates by helping students to develop their own skills and abilities in nurturing environments. For example, Ed Trust’s President and CEO John B. King Jr. often cites his grade-school teacher Mr. Osterweil for saving his life by shaping school into a safe, compelling space.

As for me, I would like to give credit to my high school junior history and sociology teacher, Ms. Wiley, who sparked my curiosity and passion for addressing inequities in education. Her lessons and assignments were thought-provoking, while at the same time it’s obvious she genuinely cares about the well-being and success of her students.

Here are some more ways Ed Trust staff members have been influenced by exceptional teachers:

  • Denise Forte, senior vice president for Partnerships and Engagement, recollects the impact of her 10th grade math teacher, Carl Hale, who was keen to understand his students and challenged them intellectually. Most notable was Mr. Hale’s persistent questioning about “What are you trying to ask?” Mr. Hale expected and supported students to think critically about the questions they ask in order to get the right information in response. Decades later, Denise still references Mr. Hale’s lessons and ideas when asking complex questions herself.
  • Ebony Daughtry, executive assistant, was greatly influenced by her middle school teacher Ms. Webb, who encouraged her to “stay in school and pursue all of her goals regardless of any barriers.” After Ebony moved on to high school, they kept in touch, and Ms. Webb took on a role as mentor. Ebony attributes much of her success to Ms. Webb’s support finding and pursuing a pathway to continuing her education as an adult.
  • Lucy Escamilla, communications intern and senior at George Washington University, is inspired by the teacher closest to her, her father Ignacio. As a teacher for English language learners, he sets high expectations for his students and instills in them that they can choose any path they want —especially college — despite what options other administrators may sway them towards. Lucy explained how Ignacio “understands the barriers not faced by other students” and he mentors his students beyond the classroom. Ignacio understands all of his students’ needs, not just the academic ones, and is able to more comprehensively support his students.
  • Coleman Evans, communications intern and junior and the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, credits her advanced placement U.S. History teacher Mike Weiss for her ability to think critically. Mr. Weiss emphasized historical events as links in a complex chain of cause and effect and framed history as a continuous, living system that shapes our current world. Historical events, he said, often do not end when the textbook chapter concludes — namely the Civil Rights Movement and systems of oppression.
  • Hana Ma, senior policy analyst at Ed Trust-West, fondly remembers the lasting impact of her high school music teacher Dr. Felder (Doc). Hana describes Doc as “at once firm and nurturing, serious and silly, and pushed us to play from and with our hearts.” Doc taught Hana about the power of music to bridge divides between people and create peace. Hana feels “full of gratitude for not only my musical education, but for Doc’s setting high expectations of us and supporting us to meet them.”

Teachers who enlighten their students every day to the broad scope of challenges of our modern society often spark students’ passions to correct these injustices. And we at Ed Trust, are truly grateful for their laying the groundwork.


Emily Herd is a rising senior at the University of South Carolina Honors College studying political science and general education and an Ed Trust intern during the spring and summer of 2019.