Inspired by our documentary TEACH, we got talking about how we all have a favorite teacher we often think of, but that we rarely share these important stories out loud. So we've kicked off a contest asking readers to send us stories about the teacher who's had the biggest, most positive influence in their lives. And we're donating upwards of $10,000 to the schools of those teachers with the most and best entries.
Below, Kiri Koziol shares the story of his favorite teacher, Greg Riley, who inspired Koziol to accomplish things he never imagined he could.
“My junior year of high school, my choir teacher retired, and the band teacher, Mr. Riley, was moving over to fill his position. For the entire three months of summer, I was distraught. I had heard horror stories about him and did not want him to ruin my choir experience. I was going to college to be a musical theater major, and I was afraid that he would ruin my love for music. I was blown away by how wrong I was. Mr. Riley was the opposite of every bad thing I expected. He encouraged me to try new things and taught me more than any teacher ever had. After a few short weeks, I was asking him to help and for advice regarding music. Because of him I had the courage to audition for vocal jazz through PMEA. That was the only year I ever made it to the state level. I had never believed I could ever accomplish that much, but he pushed me to accomplish it anyway. Now I am about to graduate from college, and instead of getting a degree in musical theater, I will have a degree in music education so I can encourage and inspire kids through music, just like Mr. Riley did for me.”
Send us your story to help us grow the donation pile ($1 added for every story up to $50,000), honor your teacher, and possibly win money for your school. So tell us, who’s your teacher hero?
This article was created as part of the social action campaign for the documentary TEACH, produced by TakePart’s parent company, Participant Media, in partnership with Bill and Melinda Gates.