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To Educate is Great: A Thank You to Teachers Everywhere

From a very early age, most of us enroll in preschool which funnels into kindergarten, followed by 1st-8th grade, to high school and eventually college. That’s quite a lot of time spent in the school system, but it’s made a worthy use of our time when we encounter teachers that are passionate about broadening our minds and perceptions of education as a whole. They can be hard to come across, but I’ve been so fortunate in my near 15 years of school to meet so many. At the beginning of this year’s Teacher Appreciation Week on May 7-11 (which should be every week, truly), I want to thank some of the many influential educators I’ve encountered.

The first one that comes to my mind chronologically is Jana Wilkening McNally. I was her student in 6th grade English, and I fell in love with her daily word riddles on the chalkboard, coupled with her unconditional support of all my writing. You always assured me that when I became a world-famous author, I’d have to give you some ink on the dedication page and that’s still the ultimate goal. You helped foster my love of writing whenever and wherever into realizing my full potential and I’m so grateful!

Next on my list is Kevin Reinheimer. I was your student in 8th grade English (and 7th, if my memory serves me correctly). Much like Mrs. McNally, your class helped establish my love of English in all its forms. I distinctly remember being introduced to authors like HG Wells, Robert Louis Stevenson, as well as the iconic musical musings of none other than Bruce Springsteen. Thank you!

MURPH, my homegirl! You got lots of quality time with me over the years, but I knew I’d adore you forever when you were my freshman English teacher (who then turned into my swim coach, mentor, and look-alike). Your enthusiasm in the classroom was so bubbly and you turned any book we read into such an adventure, on and off the page. Even though we grew to be so close, I never felt like I was being graded out of favoritism and that’s a difficult feat. I’ll love you forever, Ms. Murphy.

Mrs. Woebel! I anticipated your AP Language and Composition class every day so that I could devour more critical analysis essays. Your class was instrumental in furthering my knowledge of effective essays, the magic of annotation, and how to power through a hand cramp when furiously writing! I miss literature circles and getting a chance to explore so many different avenues of my writing with you!

F-POT, F-POT, GO CEREBRUM! Congrats, Mr. Sheridan on being the first non-English teacher on here! Your class senior year was one that I loved going to because it didn’t feel like hitting the grindstone while I was learning. Until I got to the tests, I never realized just how much I had retained from your witticisms and ever-entertaining Powerpoints (bonus points for listening to my hiccups and bickering with Zoe on the daily). Hope all is going well!

Senior year also brought me into the presence of Amy Peppi Peschke. It was difficult adjusting to a new yearbook advisor after three close years with Mrs. Wilson, but you made the best of it and I’m so appreciative! You redefined everything I thought I knew about work ethic while simultaneously producing a great final yearbook with me, so thank you.

The definition of teacher is pretty wide, so I definitely needed to include Coach Pam Forsberg on this list. You were, and continue to be, so influential in changing my view on swimming as a whole. From sayings like “churn and burn” to naming a technical drill after me, your coaching affected me so greatly even though I only was with you for one season. Miss you Coach!

Last but not least, Mrs. Debra Wilson. There are not enough words in my extensive vocabulary to express truly how transformative having you teach and mentor me was to me. Freshman year, I walked into your classroom that was adjacent to the yearbook lab and my life changed forever. Taking your Journalism class reaffirmed what I wanted to do for the rest of my life (even if my sports article was a piece of garbage). And then, you convinced me to join the yearbook and I never looked back. I don’t know how you did it, but you managed not to kill me while making three incredible yearbooks with me. Thank you for teaching me to “think about the consequences of my actions” and to be “good, but not too good, because that’s boring.” Let’s do coffee sometime so we can gripe about indexing, picas and too much white space, yeah?

As I’m only 19, I have a lot more learning to do in my life because I feel that we’re never really done. But for all the years I’ve been in school, I’ve only scratched the surface of my love for learning, and that’s in part because of the teachers mentioned, along with so many others. Teaching can sometimes be seen as a somewhat thankless job, so make sure you take the week of May 7-11 to show some appreciation for the terrific teachers in your life, however you choose to define it.

“It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.” -Albert Einstein

My name is Hannah Hippensteel, and I like to say I'm a Chicago city-slicker, but I'm actually from the 'burbs. I'm currently a senior at Winona State with a major in mass communication-journalism and a minor in sociology. Catch me enjoying all Winona has to offer: the bluffs, the incomparable Bloedow's Bakery, and not to mention, Minnesota boys. With a goal of working at Teen Vogue, Seventeen or Glamour magazine, I'm soaking up every opportunity to keep my finger on the pulse and share my personal voice!
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