The Impact of Teachers


Who are your most memorable teachers? What did they do that made such a lasting impression on you? For one thing, you were probably inspired by them to achieve more, and they may have been instrumental in helping you experience a learning breakthrough. The breakthrough wasn’t just about the math problem or getting back the second draft of your essay. It was about an emotional connection to the teacher’s belief in you as a student. Teachers have long-lasting impacts on the lives of their students, and the greatest teachers inspire students toward greatness. One example of a great teacher is Michele Washington, who received Chicago’s prestigious Golden Apple Award in 1989. No one at Golden Apple knew at the time, but Washington had been living on and off the streets since she was 15. “I was into bad stuff. I sat in crack houses. I saw people get shot at. Anything you can think of, I probably saw it or experienced it,” Washington recalled. “School was an escape from the realities I had to face at home and in my neighborhood.”

Washington started at DePaul University in the late summer of 1989 with financial assistance from Golden Apple. College was literally a way to escape that life, but she didn’t completely extract herself from it, continuing to let the distractions get the better of her. With steadfast guidance and assistance from Golden Apple, Washington pulled herself together and graduated. After a brief stint in adult education, she took over a 6th grade science class at Oscar Mayer School in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood.

Wanting to help more kids and realizing the positive impact that she could have on youth, the desire to lead and become a principal began to surface. Washington went back to school to get a master’s degree in a program designed for people who want to be principals at Hispanic schools. “I know there is something bigger I need to do. I accept that, and I’m ready for it,” she said. “Golden Apple was my lifeline. I owe them so much. And thanks to what they gave me, I now know what my purpose is.” Now the first African-American school administrator in Cicero, Illinois, Washington is completing her Ph.D. studies.


Teaching is a complicated job. It demands broad knowledge of subject matter, curriculum and standards; enthusiasm, a caring attitude and a love of learning; knowledge of discipline and classroom management techniques; and a desire to make a difference in the lives of young people. The article below announces that the Gates Foundation is conducting a study on teacher quality, which is met with some criticism because teachers often feel threatened in their roles today, perhaps more than ever. Hopefully, the study will not only champion teachers to renew their passion for their profession, but it will honor teachers who are building a stronger, better-educated society.

How can we help ensure that our nation’s 1,450 colleges, universities and departments of education are doing an outstanding job of preparing teachers for the realities of the 21st century classroom?

How can we extend effective professional development approaches to the 2.4 million teachers working in 85,000 k-12 schools in the United States that contribute to strengthening the profession and improving the schools?

How can we help teachers boost their emotional intelligence so that they engage students in the classroom and inspire them to become lifelong learners?

Nearly 100 schools sign up for Gates-funded teacher quality study
by Anna Phillips
November 3, 2009

A two-year project to study what makes a teacher good or bad is taking root in some of the city’s schools after struggling to bring teachers on board.

The United Federation of Teachers and the city’s Department of Education announced in September that they had joined forces to promote a study of teacher effectiveness paid for by the Gates Foundation. The $2.6 million project, called Measures of Effective Teaching, will look at ways of measuring teacher quality beyond using test scores.

A UFT special representative, Joseph Colletti, said 96 schools, most of them high schools, have signed onto the project. The goal is to have 100.

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