Erin Schindler and I graduated from Paul V. Moore High School (Central Square, NY) together in 1998 and have remained good friends. Last Monday, I Skyped with her Kindergarten class at Roswell North Elementary School (just north of Atlanta, GA) to chat about my sea turtle research. It was awesome to interact with her students from afar, but it was even cooler to see Erin teaching. She is a great teacher! Check out some of our turtle talk here:
After our call, I thought back to all the teachers and coaches who made a positive impact on me academically, athletically, and personally. As kids, we spend a huge chunk of our formative moments at school and under the wings of our teachers. We often forget to say thank you, and so I’d like to take a moment to express my appreciation for a few of the great teachers I was fortunate to have:
My Kindergarten teacher was Mrs. Sherman, and I vividly remember her nurturing nature, constant smile and positivity.
My third grade teacher was Mr. Dennison. He made learning fun and really cared about me as a student, and a little person.
Mrs. Zangari, my fourth grade teacher, had kind eyes and made me feel like I was a special kid.
My fifth and sixth grade teacher was Mrs. Keener, and I can still hear her laugh. She encouraged me to communicate effectively, write creatively, and to be a strong, confident female.
There are too many middle and high school teachers to name them all, but some that stick out in my mind are:
My 7th grade basketball coach Mr. Greabell, who was also my “Survival” teacher in 12th grade, taught my teammates and I to be respectful and work hard with focus, dignity and pride.
Mr. Fries was my JV coach and he let all of us crazy girls be unique individuals and have a ton of fun, and managed to teach us basketball skills along the way.
Mrs. DeRousie was an excellent math teacher, and she assuredly answered the classic question of “When am I ever gonna use this?” time and time again. So much so, that I started to appreciate math.
Mr. LaPre was not only my Biology teacher, but also the boys varsity basketball coach and someone I looked up to with great respect and never wanted to disappoint. He taught me, in the classroom and on the court, that my future is in my own hands, and if I want something bad enough and I put in the hard work, I can make it happen. He really believed in me, and taught me to believe in myself.
Mr. Lindsay was my enthusiastic and energetic chemistry and AP Biology teacher. This man would throw himself into walls and bounce around the classroom to demonstrate the difference between the state of molecules in liquids, solids, and gases. He made science fun, and memorable!
Mrs. DeVivo-Beers and Mrs. O’Neil (formerly known as Miss Morris) were a dynamic duo of upper-level math teachers. They were both extremely supportive of my entire graduating class, and I left high school knowing they were as much my friends as they were wonderful teachers and mentors. Mrs. O’Neil taught college-level Calculus and was amazing at breaking difficult concepts down into digestible steps; she somehow made the daunting course easy and fun without us even realizing it. Mrs. DeVivo-Beers was our class Advisor and she gracefully ushered us through all four years of high school with a smile on her face, and on graduation day she was genuinely overwhelmed with pride and love as we each walked across the stage and accepted our diplomas.
Mr. Brazell was my varsity basketball coach and he treated all of his players like his own daughters. He created an atmosphere where we all wanted to be the best individual players we could be, and more importantly be the best teammates, friends and people that we could be, on and off the court. He has won a lot of games (over 300!) and has molded a lot of good basketball players, but the best things I took away from my experience playing for him are invaluable memories and lifelong friendships, including his.
Although I wasn’t able to mention all of my amazing teachers by name, I do hope each and every one of them realizes how important they were to my development as a student and as a person. I am extremely grateful that I had such caring and positive role models throughout school. It is no surprise that many of my classmates have followed in their footsteps and become excellent teachers, including Erin!