Get Inspired: Our Favorite Teacher Story of the Week
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 life. And we’re donating upwards of $10,000 to the schools of those teachers with the most and best entries.
Here, Shauna Hawes shares a story about her favorite teacher, Robert Andrews of Houghtaling Elementary School in Ketchikan, Alaska.
“In a small town on an island in southeast Alaska, an elementary school teacher named Mr. Andrews had an idea. As the bicentennial (1976) approached, he wanted to give his fifth and sixth grade extended learning students a glimpse at the country outside the island on which they lived. I was a part of that group.
For the school year, we worked on raising funds for this adventure. We learned to write letters, address envelopes, sell items, keep accounts, and far more, in the quest of raising $12,000. Of course, we had no idea of the work involved for Mr. Andrews in planning such an adventure.
An article in the 'Ketchikan Daily News' on March 12, 1976, publicized the efforts and showed the collaboration of other teachers, staff, and community members who wanted to make this happen for us.
In April, the journey began on a ferry with 15 students, four adults, and two little boys. We leased two Winnebago motor homes, which we picked up in Seattle. The boys rode in the Brave, and the girls rode in the Minnie Winnie. For five weeks and four days, Mr. Andrews guided us through states and terrain that most of us had never seen. We visited the World Trade Center, Disney World, Mystic Seaport, and the Great Salt Lake. I recited the Gettysburg Address in Gettysburg and saw Banyan trees in Florida. We saw the golden spike where the railroads met. We experienced Amish art in Pennsylvania and Southwestern art in New Mexico.
Because one of our group members was Mormon, we spent time in Salt Lake City at the Mormon Tabernacle. Mr. Andrews tried to incorporate other such personalized experiences in the planning of this trip. We visited one girl’s father in Colorado, for example. My own father, outside Seattle, was able to come visit me during our time there.
The less glamorous stops included laundromats, public showers, and McDonald’s. We didn’t have McDonald’s or similar places in Ketchikan, so these were special events for us. We made occasional phone calls home, and sometimes we got homesick. But we traveled on and on and on.
We wrote journals and did schoolwork daily as we traveled the country. Mr. Andrews kept us focused on understanding why we visited the places we did, and helped us understand that we just couldn’t see everything in the time we had.
I’ve connected with some of the students and Mr. Andrews over the past year. I am grateful for this experience, and for the man who dreamed it could happen.”
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. 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.