1. Education
Richard Nordquist

Remembering English Teachers Who Changed Our Lives

By November 16, 2012

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Not long ago, in the article More Than One Great English Teacher, I invited you to describe that one teacher or professor who has had "an enduring influence on the way you think, work, read, or write."

Not surprisingly, many of the replies came from present-day teachers and writers--most of whom recalled the toughest and most demanding teacher in their old school.

Now it's your turn. Click on "comments" to share your recollections of that one great English teacher who changed your life. . . .

For the complete article (revised and expanded), see English Teachers Who Changed Our Lives.


November 17, 2012 at 7:30 am
(1) Benny says:

Mr Camp was a crusty old history teacher who had been coerced into taking over our high school English class after Mrs Bloom dropped dead the second week of term.

Camp spoke in a monotone and wasn’t remotely inspirational (at least not in any conventional sense). But as the weeks went on, you could tell that he was getting a big kick out of teaching something new, and eventually we picked up on his enthusiasm. I remember how Mark Twain made him laugh long and hard.

What Mr Camp showed us, by example, was the sheer joy of discovering great works of literature.

He also happened to be a fierce editor, and he taught us how to reduce 200 words of fluff to a few tight sentences.

Thank you, Mr Camp.

November 19, 2012 at 11:22 am
(2) juliepie628 says:

I’d like to salute Mrs. Marjory Long of Gurrie Junior High School (now Gurrie Middle School) in La Grange, Illinois. I don’t have much to say other than she was a huge influence on me and still is now. I still wonder “What would Mrs. Long think?” whenever I write anything. Thank you, Mrs. Long!!

November 19, 2012 at 1:18 pm
(3) DavidF says:

It was my Grade 9 English teacher who gave me a solid foundation in grammar, and a good appreciation of how writing well could be a major factor in my future.

One of his techniques was to insist that students accompany any sentence fragment in a paper by the note, “THIS IS A SENTENCE FRAGMENT.” I never again handed in a paper containing a sentence fragment.

November 19, 2012 at 1:20 pm
(4) Bozena Felsz says:

I’d like to salute Mr. Andre Peltier who taught me love for French literature by sharing and modelling his passion for its beauty. Merci!

November 19, 2012 at 1:22 pm
(5) S. Cugini says:

Sister mary Raymond, long ago deceased, but always remembered, inspired my passion for English. She demanded attention, taught with passion and expected that we meet her expectations. She angered me, but I so admired her. I wanted to capitvate people, just like she did. And so I became a high school English teacher. I taught for 34 years; don’t know if I inspired or capitavated any, but I hope I did. Thank-you, Sister Raymond.

November 19, 2012 at 2:44 pm
(6) John A. Miller says:

A belated and long overdue “thank you” to Dr. Gay, my 9th grade
English teacher at the Monticello High School, Monticello, New York.
Dr. Gay bestowed an “A” on me for his course. This was the only “A” I
remember getting all the way through high school. I went on
be become an English teacher which only proves just how far a
little encouragement can go.

November 19, 2012 at 3:41 pm
(7) Treasure Ochojila says:

I remeber Mr. Iniunam in Immaculate Conception Secondary School,Itak in Akwa Ibom State of Nigeria.Very fluent and a great writer.You inspired me to greatness!Thanks a million.

November 20, 2012 at 7:10 am
(8) Richard Arnold says:

The year was 1968. John Roberts, English teacher of 5th Grade at Tilden Elementary School in a working class, row-house neighborhood, encouraged students to publish the Newzine, a monthly collection of student stories and poetry.

I was one of the lucky students motivated to spend extra efforts after school and at home to craft poetic masterworks and enjoy the pleasures of being published.

Mr. Roberts provided the guidance and support that made writing FUN – what a delightful gift to give 5th graders!

44 years later, I recall very little about that year at Tilden. But I’ll always remember and be grateful to Mr. Roberts.

November 20, 2012 at 12:15 pm
(9) Richard DiFranco says:

I still remember Mr. Bernstein from ninth grade English at Bleeker Junior High School in Queens, NY. He not only introduced me to Kipling, he had a great way of presenting all topics and making them interesting. He collected words with the same spelling but two pronunciations and two meanings. He introduced us to classics with enthusiasm. He treated us as adults. I would thank him is I could.

November 21, 2012 at 5:12 am
(10) Aysenur Boztepe says:

Mary Sheehan was my English teacher in high school (Dumas High School, 1977-78)

My English teacher in college admired my writing and especially my correct use of puctuation marks and asked if it was in me or did I have a great teacher in high school. I told him I had a great teacher in high school.

November 27, 2012 at 11:24 am
(11) Nicole says:

Dr. Robert Seufert, recently semi-retired from MacMurray College changed my life. It was thanks to his encouragement and guidance that I aggressively pursued a career in writing, and it is thanks to his enduring passion that I continue to learn and grow as a writer. Whether he was offering ten more minutes of “one more thing” at the end of a lecture or demonstrating hubris with a strut across the room, Dr. Seufert was, is and will continue to be unparalleled in wit and interesting neckties.

January 12, 2013 at 10:04 pm
(12) Jenny M. Walters says:

The best teacher, I have ever had was the one whose class I just finished, and that was my English professor in my first semester of community college at Ivy Tech in Indianapolis, Indiana. His name? Professor Fred W. Feltner. This man should not be called a simple teacher. No, he is also a life-coach of sorts, friend to his students, and a “constant” source of praise and positivity as well. He has the “biggest” heart for his pupils that you will “ever” find in “any” educator! I know for a fact that in 20 years down the road I will still remember his class fondly and perhaps with misty eyes. Going beyond the call-of-duty does not even begin to describe his “astounding” commitment to his students! He was tough, not easy, and I did not always like his grading, but it was what I “needed” to achieve the results that I did in his class. I would drop what I was doing in a heartbeat to help him in the future, if he asked. He went “way” beyond anything someone would have to do to earn it my respect and trust. I hope and pray that his incoming students realize the genius of this professor and heed his advice! Mr. Feltner?, when you read this know that no matter what tomorrow brings, “you” are “exactly” where you need to be to make the greatest impact on those under your instruction. You were given an “incredible” gift, and you wield your talent amazingly well!

October 9, 2013 at 8:49 am
(13) Neely Lyles says:

Mr. Henry Earl Martin, also known as “El Senor”, taught English and Spanish in Rotan, Texas, where he had grown up. He encouraged and showed us children of hardscrabble cotton farmers how to read, how to write like adults, and convinced us we were on a journey to becoming responsible, intelligent, well-rounded (and dare I say, “sophisticated”?) citizens of the great world.

January 14, 2014 at 12:04 am
(14) Angela says:

My freshman year I met Ms. Lovell. She was a n instructor of Business classes.She was tough and meant you were going to pass her class. She taught me critical thinking, word usage, and hard work. I learned so much from her as a teacher, but also as a human being. She became my mentor and I honor her today as the best teacher I have ever had! Thank you Ms. Lovell for caring about your students.You made me a better person that can do whatever I set my mind to do.
College was a challenge and when I graduated I felt victorious!

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