Tammy Waddell, a former teacher in Georgia, lost a battle to cancer early this month. Her final wish is one that has moved and inspired many around the world. Instead of flowers, she asked for school supplies to be donated at her funeral for students in need. Dr. Brad Johnson, Waddell’s cousin, tweeted a picture of backpacks, filled with school supplies, lining the aisles. Waddell’s students and former students commented on how she was an inspiration to them and recounted heartwarming memories.
This leads to the question of how big of an impact do teachers have on their students, and what kind of impact?
Many people remember the positive impacts their teachers have had on them. Even acts as simple as letting the student take charge of the projector, instilled a sense of leadership and self worth. In other instances, teachers had a personal impact on the student through one on one interactions where they pushed the student out of their comfort zone because they saw the potential within them.
This motivation lingers in the minds of the students to this day. Well known Golden Globe nominated film and stage actress Emily Blunt recalls a middle school teacher who changed her life. Between the ages of seven and 14, Blunt had a major stutter that prevented her from having the kind of conversations she wanted to. However, this teacher persuaded Blunt to try out for the school play, and even got her to take acting lessons to help express herself.
However, people also recall the negative impacts their teachers have had on them, such as making them feel dumb or degrading their self confidence. Faraz, a student from Rubab School, asked how she was supposed to feel if “a teacher, someone who should be motivating me and helping me, says I do not stand a chance at having a bright future?”
Although people have had teachers impact them in both positive and negative ways, one thing is clear: teachers like Waddell have shown the world what it means to be a teacher who motivates, inspires, and supports their students. They are creating a path for the next generation to step into success.