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Guest Blog Post: What Makes a Good Teacher?

Guest Blog Post: Kerry Folan, Creator

What makes a good teacher?

It’s not a question that’s easily answered.

I’ve been collecting personal stories about good teachers at for the past year. These stories are alternatively funny, heart-breaking, poignant, sweet, or inspirational, and in them I’ve discovered as many different definitions of what it means to be a good teacher as there are people writing them.

“Believe me, MacBeth is not an easy play to connect to the lives of suburban high schoolers,” writes award-winning author Dave Eggers  about his high-school English teacher. “But somehow Mr. Criche made the play seem electric, dangerous, relevant.”

“My father was a coal-miner with a tenth-grade education,” writes Cathy Parker.  “Most teachers treated me like I didn’t have a chance at graduating, let alone going on to college. Mr. Walling saw that my dad encouraged my love of science and my mom spent hours supplementing my education.”

In my own life, among many others, there was Mrs. Strnad, a social studies teacher who brought such passion and humor to the classroom that at 12 years old, I declared to my parents my earnest intention to become an Egyptologist.

How could any of us have known at the time that these lessons would be the defining ones, the ones we would carry with us well into adulthood and rely on in our continued, complicated, grown-up search for who we are as people? We couldn’t. But they were.

Teaching is hard work, and teachers work hard at their jobs. But as in any profession, hard work isn’t the final measure of success. Nor, I’ve come to think, are test scores, yearly progress reports, or any other graphable measurements. An education comprises unquantifiable experiences: moments of curiosity, inspiration, and pride. More often than not, a good teacher is the force behind these moments.

Teachers touch their students in a million unexpected ways. The community knows this. If you are reading this blog post, you are a member of the community and must care an awful lot about education. You probably believe, like I do, that a good teacher is a powerful force. You may even be one of those very special teachers who has spent your own precious free time writing classroom requests on behalf of your students, trying to secure for them the resources you know are necessary for their education. And you probably have your own Mr. Criche, or Mr. Walling, or Mrs. Strnad.

If you do, we would love to hear your story. Honoring these educators and recognizing their creativity, patience, and dedication is a reminder to us all that a good teacher, in the end, is one that stays in our hearts and minds forever.

Submit a story about a teacher that has made a difference in your life to


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