Who Was Your Most Influential Teacher, and Why?

Teacher Matt Gring talks with his students in the third grade at St. Ambrose Catholic School, a Notre Dame ACE Academy, in Tucson, Ariz., Oct. 23, 2014. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)

 Who was your most influential teacher, and why? What made this person stand out? What teaching styles or techniques, or strategies or approach, made him or her so memorable? I welcome your responses in the comment area below.  

Don't identify by name, as people might want to remain anonymous. But as we continue through our summer examen, wondering what to tinker with for the upcoming year, it's worth recalling the teachers who changed our perspectives and perhaps even our lives. What made them so special? What can we learn from them today? What about a great teacher is enduring?

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2 years 10 months ago
I graduated from a Jesuit high school and a Jesuit college. My high school faculty would repeat often in classes: "be a man for others". The boys used to repeat it often. We listened. Both in high school and college, the lasting phrase that continues to ring in my head today is "uomo universale". More than anything I appreciate those many faculty at my very small schools who articulated the liberal arts, tied them together seamlessly and wove God into the center, the core of all. Even now in my field of medicine, I look for God in all things: my patients, their illnesses, their symptoms, the biochemistry, physiology, histology, even the treatment - especially the treatment - the sorrow, the joy, the wonder of Life. I thank my teachers for that clarity. I wish to be able to speak to anyone about anything and let God be visible in our midst in spite of my sins. That's what my most memorable teachers imparted on me as a student in their classes. One single particular teacher? too many to list. I stand on the shoulders of giants. AMDG
Joseph J Dunn
2 years 10 months ago
I too graduated from a Jesuit high school and college, and had quite a few great teachers and professors there. But that would not have happened without the work of my eighth-grade teacher, a member of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (a.k.a. "Macs"). As was typical in the early 1960s, one nun stood alone in front of sixty students (I have the class photo to prove it). No aides, assistants, class mothers. Alone. Our other classroom of eighth graders had another fifty-five students. Also typical in those days, if just one student from a working-class parish's 8th grade won admission by competitive exam to one of the private Catholic high schools in the area, that was a cause of celebration in the parish. Our good Sister set out to do something better, something more. She contacted the parents of each student in both classrooms, offering to hold extra classes to help students prepare for the private school entrance exams. So, the extra classes met three days each week, focused on Latin, algebra, tons of vocabulary words, etc., and extra homework. That Spring, twenty-nine boys from our parish graduating class won admission to St. Joseph's Prep (Philadelphia), and quite a few boys and girls won admission to other private high schools. What is enduring, what is special? Not just dynamic presentation, but leadership: positive attitude, specific assignments, challenging goals, no excuses. And a Sister's acute case of Heroic Virtue.


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