Celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week!

May 8, 2024

Celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week!

This week NIET is joining our partners nationwide to share teachers’ reflections on what the teaching profession means to them, where they find inspiration, and the support and relationships that keep them going. Read a few of their answers below, as we come together to celebrate and honor teachers.

What was the most rewarding experience you have had as a teacher?

“The most rewarding experience I've had as a teacher was when one of my former students reached out to me a few months ago. He sent me a heartfelt message on Facebook, expressing his gratitude and saying, ‘Thank you.’ This experience meant so much to me because it validated the impact I had on him throughout his school years, despite only teaching him in grade 6.

The backstory to this experience is that I had the privilege of teaching him for two years in grade 6. When he first entered my class, he struggled with reading and had poor grades. At the end of the first year, his average hovered around 40%. However, over the second year with me as his teacher, his average dramatically improved to 80%. This achievement alone was significant, but hearing from him years later was even more meaningful. During our conversation, he reminded me of his academic journey and how I never gave up on him. He shared that he has become a successful entrepreneur, operating a thriving business. 

Knowing that I played a part in his transformation and success reinforced my belief that I was fulfilling my purpose as a teacher. It affirmed that my goal to positively influence children and help them become successful adults in their unique ways is being realized.”

- Javion Simpson, Teacher, Orangeburg County School District, South Carolina

What motivates you and keeps you in the profession?

“I was motivated to stay in the profession because of the relationships I built with the students and how I felt I could mold them into better readers. Each year felt like a group of kids and myself, teamed up to take on the learning for the year. I got to know them as people, not just students. We talked about books and what everyone was reading.  

Now that I am out of the classroom, I am motivated by supporting our teachers. Teaching is hard work and can often feel draining and isolating, without much time to do anything other than teach and manage kids. In my job, I get to help teachers tackle things that they might otherwise not have the time and energy for. I get to learn new things and bring them to the teachers. I get to support teachers who are new to our field and help them grow into who they want to be. Helping those around me be successful in their classrooms so they can help their students be successful in the classrooms is my biggest motivator!”

- Brittney Rievley, Instructional Coach, Dayton City School, Tennessee

When was a moment in your life when a teacher impacted you?

“My ninth-grade driver’s ed teacher, Jeff Stewart. I was his biggest headache but he devoted so much time to teaching me a lifelong skill. I ran into him a few years ago and he said I am one of the reasons he is still teaching driver’s ed. Hearing him say I made a difference in his career impacted me, and I want to make a difference as well.”

- Asha Scribner, Elementary School Teacher, Academics Plus Charter School, Arkansas

What is a piece of advice you would give to someone considering becoming a teacher?

“I would encourage an aspiring teacher to know it’s ok to not know everything and that everyone has room for growth always. Every student and year is different and there is no ‘one size fits all.’ Use everyone as a resource and never feel like you’re ‘bothering’ someone. Continuous change and improvement is what drives a great classroom for all students.”

- Amber Mosqueda, Fourth Grade Teacher, Mansfield Independent School District, Texas

What was one of the biggest lessons you learned as a teacher that you want to impart to others?

“To continue learning and turn any mistake into a moment to reflect. I remember when I began teaching, I thought that in a few years, I would be an expert, but that is far from the truth. I have found that every year I grow and learn how to be a better teacher for my students. I am constantly researching the best teaching methodologies and adapting my instruction to fit the newest research in our ever-changing world. Furthermore, I was very hard on myself the first year or two of teaching and was quite down when I felt that I didn't serve my kids to the best of my ability. Now, I take the time to recognize when I make a mistake and grow from it through reflection. I would encourage all teachers to give themselves grace and an opportunity to get better in times when things seem difficult.”

- Emily Snyder, Teacher, Nenana City School District, Alaska

What is your favorite teaching moment or memory, and what did you learn from that experience?

“My favorite memory has to be the year I brought a 3-day-old calf to school with 24 hours' notice. She had been born with hoof deformities and a vet friend asked if my engineering students would want to try to develop some mobility aids. It was a whirlwind coming up with a project plan on such short notice, but it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the students in our urban school district. This was the first project that I didn’t have at least an idea of what the solution might look like. It was scary to admit that the teacher didn’t have any of the answers and that we would be learning together, but what an incredible experience of approaching real-life content through the eyes of my students and the community members we involved. 

There will never be another 'Daisy' project, but I learned so much about adapting projects to the standards, community collaboration, and most of all, the perseverance and determination of every level of student when they are faced with a truly meaningful project.”

- Jen Yoder, Instructional Coach, Goshen Community Schools, Indiana

What inspired you to become a teacher?

“I became a teacher because I am the proud product of what public schools can do to change the course of a child’s life. Without the support and rigor set by my teachers, my trajectory would have been entirely different. Growing up in foster care, the odds were against me. Moving from home to home, I had to adapt to new expectations each time and endure the traumas inherent in the foster care system. But at school I was free. The warm smile of my kindergarten teacher reassured me of my safety, my second-grade teacher’s keen observations led me to receive necessary reading interventions, and my high school history teacher’s high standards set me firmly on the path to college.

My teachers didn't judge me by my family, where I lived, or what I wore; instead, they focused on my efforts, my potential, and my unique talents. I am one of the 3% of foster children who grow up to earn a college degree, and I owe that in part to the countless educators who supported me throughout the years. The transformative power of education is profound. I became a teacher to continue transforming the lives of children who, like me, need a little extra love, motivation, and high expectations to realize their purpose.”

- Alexis Aguirre, Master Teacher, Osborn School District, Arizona

As a teacher, what kind of support do you think is helpful in the classroom?

“I was a plant operator for many years, and I became interested in teaching because I wanted to inspire students by being a positive role model in their lives. I think that mentoring all teachers is needed for us to do the best job we can for our supervisors and the children we serve. One reason why I believe that every teacher, including veteran teachers, needs mentoring is because we, as teachers, have to understand and constantly change to meet the needs of today's students. Being a public servant is not easy, but it is a tremendous joy to help mold the young minds of students so that they can become productive citizens.”

- Junius Egby, ELA Teacher, St. Martin Parish School District, Louisiana


About NIET

NIET has partnered with schools, districts, states, and universities to build educator excellence and give all students the opportunity for success. NIET's initiatives, including the TAP System, teacher and leader development, school improvement, rubric and observation systems, and educator preparation, have impacted more than 300,000 educators and 3 million students across the U.S.