My Favorite Teacher

Office Depot for REAL change

I loved elementary school. My teachers, my friends, learning to read and being able to write my own stories- it was all good. I can look back and rattle off the names of half of dozen teachers who supported (and challenged) me.

But if you ask me now about my favorite teacher, which the folks at Office Depot asked me to do in this sponsored post, I'd have to say it was Mrs. Polko, my younger son's kindergarten teacher. Years ago I described her on this very blog as a woman who looked like a grandmother but had the energy of a toddler. She so embodied the spirit of Miss Frizzle that I was tempted to search the school parking lot for the Magic School Bus.

Mrs. Polko loved to learn and she loved to teach. In fact, she was once given a prestigious teaching award, but turned it down when she learned that it came with a six-month sabbatical that would require her to leave her young charges in the middle of a school year.

I'm the kind of old skool mom who thinks kids need to earn rewards, not just get them for showing up as often happens these days. But my heart melted when she held an end-of-year award ceremony for the class. Here's what I wrote about it in 2006:
This award ceremony was different. It was different because it was meaningful, not just to the parents, but to the children. Almost every award she gave out was delivered with very specific verbal praise for the recipient. As she addressed the children, I got this sense that I was watching them get imprinted for life. Mrs. P. has touched them deeply.
I recently saw a headline noting a positive correlation between a high quality kindergarten and later career earning. If this is the case, my younger boy is set to become a millionaire.

Millionaire or not, Mrs. Polko surely made a lifelong impact on my son. That's what a good teacher does. And Office Depot wants to help them. They are a presenting sponsor of the star-studded Artists for Education, a show featuring top acts highlighting the important role of teachers.

It's not airing in Chicago, but it will play on other CBS affiliates across the country on April 23, 2013 and can be accessed at REAL Change Watch the trailer below and tell me it didn't make you tear up--which is exactly how I felt when Mrs. P, now retired, told me that she would be able to join us at my son's bar mitzvah later this spring. I can't wait for her to see how far my son has come. I know she'll be kvelling alongside me.

There are many critics voicing concern about the state of education, heck I'm one of them, but behind the bureaucracy of our system are millions of classroom teachers giving it their all to educate students, day after day, year after year. Teachers change lives and you can help them. Learn more about Office Depot's REAL Change initiative

Disclosure: I am an Office Depot REAL Change blog ambassador. This post is part of a campaign where I was compensated for my time. To learn more about REAL Change, visit their website.
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