Get Inspired: Our Favorite Teacher Story of the Week
Inspired by our documentary TEACH, we got to 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. We’re donating upwards of $10,000 to the schools of those teachers with the most and best entries.
Here, Jean Greenidge tells the story of her dynamic teacher Mary Neely from McNally High School in Alberta, Canada.
“Mary Neely did not know. She did not know that her care and love for me was going to be the lifesaver it was. She did not know that at the time I came into her classroom (so long ago), I was living in a 24-hour laundromat and was having my friends sneak me Happy Meals. Mary Neely did not know way back then that her care for me and her authentic desire to help was going to be the difference in my life that it turned out to be. Mary Neely’s drama room was my lifesaver.
Mary Neely saw me. Maybe it was her teacher’s intuition, but she cared enough about teaching to take the time to see through the defiant, loud, boisterous teenager to see the vulnerable, shy, self-conscious, tender and hurt individual beneath. I was heartbroken. No adult in my life had been able to see that person, respect that person, or tell that person that she mattered.
Mary Neely did that. She had time for me. She told me that the work I did in her class mattered and was relevant. She made me feel that I was good at something. Her care for me made me accountable to her and to the others with whom I shared that classroom. In short, Mary Neely made me feel like I was visible and that I mattered in the world.
Some time later, when I was considering careers, is there any wonder that I chose to be a difference maker like Mary Neely? In my classroom, I strive to see beyond the shyness, try to soothe the heartbreak, and make students feel like what they do matters and that they can make a difference in the world.”
Send us your story to help us grow the donation pile ($1 will be 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.