Celebrating teachers: Favourite schooltime memories

Nearly everyone has a memory of a favourite teacher from their schooldays, someone who inspired and helped shape who they are today.

A teacher who can help a student uncover a passion, for example, or help a struggling learner overcome a disability, can have a lifelong impact.

Wendy Carr, the associate dean of Teacher Education at the University of British Columbia, said teaching is a calling that can't be ignored.

This school year, with the increase in demand for teachers following a Supreme Court ruling to reduce class sizes, teachers are being celebrated more than ever.

"It is a calling that your whole being responds to and not just your head," Carr told CBC's Gloria Macarenko, host of B.C. Almanac.

"It's the very best way to use all of your talents, all of your energy, all that you have to offer the world."

Carr said it's always a good time to get into teaching but, this year in particular, there is an extra focus on public education.

"In this particular climate in what is being called an 'era of change,' we are really feeling it," Carr said. "The energy level is really heightened."

Remembering favourite teachers

The energy is heightened for those getting into teaching — and those remembering their own school time experiences.

Maureen Ryan was recently having dinner with her son, who is going into Grade 5, and recalled her own teacher from that age.

"That's a teacher I will never forget," Ryan said. "He had this really cool thing where if we wanted to cook in front of the class, we could bring a recipe in and he would make the time."

She cooked for her classmates three times during that class and said it is a big reason why she is a chef today.

"He wanted to find out other passions within us that didn't entail just teaching the regular curriculum," Ryan said. "I'm hoping that my son this year will have a teacher like that as well."

Guardian angel

Yvonne Patrick-Moore, now in her 70s, still looks back at an interaction with a childhood teacher as a life-changing moment. She struggled with reading, later discovering she was dyslexic, but said her teacher never lost sight of her potential.

"Emily Davison, for me, was my guardian angel in education," Patrick-Moore said. "She saw some kind of potential in me that I didn't know I had and it's obviously made a 100 per cent difference in my life."

Michael Cassidy, a teacher, said those moments of making a difference in a student's life are what teaching is all about. He recalled a Ukrainian student from the beginning of his teaching career who was still learning English and adapting to a new country.

Cassidy said he made an extra effort to motivate her and ease her transition into the Canadian school system, to show her that she had someone in her corner who cared.  

"When she graduated several years later, her mother and grandparents and brother and father came up and all gave me a big hug," he said. "For me, that was a very special moment to know that I could make a change and a difference in somebody's life."

With files from B.C. Almanac.