I know this sounds really terrible, but none of the teachers I ever had growing up all the way through high school really had any kind of big impact on me.
Maybe it was my fault because I wasn’t paying attention too much, or maybe it’s just because I got pretty run-of-the-mill teachers. Who knows…
But I think I’m pretty rare because it sounds like a whole lot of people out there had teachers at some point along the way that really left an impact on them.
Let’s see what folks on AskReddit had to say about this.
“I broke up with my boyfriend the night before my final and as I was walking to class to take it, my teacher seeing me, told me that I could take it the following day with his afternoon class without me even saying a word.
He was a really great teacher!”
2. Showed him.
“My computer science teacher would belittle me in front of other students and even asked me why I showed up for class.
I hated his class and slowly just doing the work and failed the class because he made me believe I was dumb and incapable.
I’m currently working in an MSCS at a top 10 CS school and have plans to apply for PhD programs in CS next year.”
3. Thank you, Mr. Wyatt.
“Senior year I was placed in a Freshman typing class.
Everyone else was chatty and goofed off, but I wanted to learn to type, so I really put in a lot of effort. I only had two classes in the morning, and the rest of the day I was a waitress, as I was pretty much on my own in my senior year. I got called into work on the day of our class final, so I went to work and missed the final.
When I showed up to class the next day, I apologized to the teacher for missing the final. He asked me “do you want to know the grade you got?” When I replied yes, he said “I gave you an A because if you had been here, that’s what you would’ve gotten.”
I never forgot that. Thank you Mr. Wyatt.”
4. We’ll see about that!
“Told me to stop dating my boyfriend when we were 13 because “It’s not like you’re gonna marry him”.
We stayed together and got married.”
5. That’s messed up.
“I once got expelled for smoking weed at school when at the time I never even smoked it.
I was 13 and started crying saying that I didn’t smoke any weed. Since I was crying, my eyes got red & then the teacher and principal say “just look how red your eyes are, you’re ripped out of your mind!”
It got me kicked off our Championship Basketball team and everything. I’ll never forgive those two for what they did to me & the stress they caused my single mother.”
6. Pretty rude.
“7th grade English teacher pointed out to the class that I stuttered.
9th grade English teacher told the class that the reason I left class every Friday was to go to speech therapy for stuttering.
Thanks a lot Mrs. N and Mrs. M. I’ll never forget you.”
7. Still remember him.
“When I was in 5th grade in 1975, my parents were divorcing and I was living with my abusive father.
If I didn’t get B+ or better on my report card, I got the belt. Not a little, mind you. A full-on beat down, and probably denial of meals for a while. The ’70’s with an abusive parent were a very different time.
My father had quite a reputation in the small Pennsylvania town I lived in (McKean, PA). He was known as an incredibly strict person, and our neighbors all hated him. But this was a different time, and that sort of behavior was ignored in public.
My 5th grade math teacher, Mr. Cunningham, scared me. He looked a bit like my father, and didn’t suffer any nonsense in his classroom at all. I struggled with mathematics, and it just didn’t make sense to me.
We got our first report card in 5th grade. These were the days where you could carry a card with you for the day, and the teacher would write your grade on the report card. You would then have to take it home, and have a parent sign it to acknowledge that they had seen your grades.
So far, through the day, the grades were good. A’s, mostly, an A-, but all good.
Math was my last class of the day before I had to catch the bus.
When my report card came back to me, I froze in terror. I recall this moment like a photograph. The grade was a D, written in pen, right there on the report card. I knew what was coming. The blood drained out of my face.
Mr. Cunningham dismissed the class, and I was frozen in my desk. Scared of what he would do, and even more scared of what my father would do.
All the other kids had left the classroom, and my world around me was gone – just me, my books, and the D staring at me telling me that my 10-year old self was going to suffer. Badly.
I felt a hand on my shoulder, and I shook and started crying.
Mr. Cunningham looked at me. He took my report card out of my hand, and walked up to his desk. He called me up there. I was still terrified, probably shaking, definitely trying to hide my crying and failing.
He got out a black pen and changed the D into a B+. He didn’t say anything, he just looked at me. He knew. He could see the signs, and he knew how terrified I was and why.
I had no idea an adult could be so compassionate, and had no idea it was even possible to change something like that.
He handed my report card back to me, and said two words that have stayed with me to this day. “Earn this.” He put his hand on my shoulder and said, “I know. It’s not fair, and I’m sorry. You’re a smart kid, and you can get this. Just ask me for help.”
It was a simple act of kindness, and it’s stuck with me to this day. The math grade didn’t matter – I’m successful enough in my 50’s to not have that come up on my permanent record. But the permanent change of my impression of Mr. Cunningham is still very much with me.
If you have power over other people, you have to wield that power with compassion. You have to tailor that power to meet the needs of the individual. That is the lesson I learned that day from Mr. Cunningham.
The next terms I got a B+ or better. I assume it’s because I worked really hard, and Mr. Cunningham helped me out at lunch – or, he was kind because he knew.
Thank you, Mr. Cunningham. This was 45 years ago, and I still remember you.”
8. What a jerk.
“When I was in third grade the teacher of my gifted program class (extra class we were pulled from mainstream to do a few hours a week) started berating me over raising my hand too quickly to answer questions saying I needed to think longer and give others the chance to answer.
She went on and on about how I had an attitude. I got upset and she made me stand in front of the class when I started to cry. “I know you’re crying and I don’t care”. It was my birthday.
It was a class of about 8 students. One guy told me in high school that that day was one of his clearest memories from elementary school.”
9. A lesson.
“I called somebody stupid once when they got a question wrong and the teacher instantly made me stand up and spell “stupid” backwards.
Got it wrong with the pressure and learned a lesson that day.”
10. A gift.
“This teacher was extremely strict HATED by my class, but loved me because I was one of the few who respected her and did well in her class.
When school ended, she gave me a crystal bear. Nothing too fancy or expensive, but I felt as if I was glowing leaving that classroom with bear in my hand. I still have it and will treasure it forever.”
11. Saved my life…
“I was anorexic when I was in school.
A teacher took me aside after class and told me that if I didn’t stop doing what I was doing to myself I was going to die. That my body was going to start shutting down, my organs would fail, that it would not be beautiful and I was going to die an awful and painful death.
I still catch myself slipping back into that mindset ten years later sometimes. But I will never forget that. She saved my life.”
12. A good man.
“I had just gotten out of an emotionally abusive relationship around 16 and was worried about my ex hurting herself (abuse really f*cks up your mind), so I confided in my English teacher.
He listened to what I had to say and express, then secretly got in touch with my parents, school administration, and her school’s administration to make sure we were both ok. My parents told me about this about a year after graduation. I was really taken back by the fact that he did all of that to make sure we were ok.
I’m Facebook friends with the teacher and want to buy him a beer once COVID is under control.”
13. Fakin’ it.
“I faked my way through 4th and 5th grade math. I never understood how to do long division, but managed to hide that from the teachers and answer test questions by reverse multiplication – basically guess a number and multiply it out and see how close I would get, and keep doing it until I got the answer.
My 6th grade math teacher figured out that I was faking, and had no idea how to actually divide anything. She had me come in one afternoon to “help with cleaning the erasers” (all the kids fought for this privilege , so I was thrilled), sat me down and tutored me until I grasped the concept.
Bless you, Mrs. Gillespie!”
14. Disney trip.
“My physics teacher in high school hosted an annual trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando for 15-20 kids for over a week.
I was one of the better and most interested students in his class. He was an incredible teacher who found examples in physics everywhere. He also used to work for Disney prior to teaching.
Since my family was not so well off and I could not afford the trip to Walt Disney World, I declined when he asked me if I was going to join. He probed a bit and he somehow found the funds to have me join without me even inquiring. I don’t know if he pulled school money or there was a surplus, but either way, that was one of my best memories from that school.
I still keep in touch with him 15 years later.”
15. Like a pin dropping.
“In high school one of my teachers had this duck-bill whistle (literally shaped like a duck’s bill and it made a quacking noise).
She used it to get the class’ attention. One time I guess we were being extra rowdy and she blew the everloving sh*t out of it and the class went stone-dead quiet.
She got this shocked look on her face, and then took her hair pin out and dropped it and the whole class heard it hit the ground and she got this big grin on her face and we all just busted out laughing.”
16. Outed…in a good way.
“She outed me for pretending to not speak English to my mom. I am mexican American, but I am one of those lame “border crossed me” ones who was really a native American if we are being honest.
At any rate, I ignored my kindergarten teacher so much she assumed I didnt speak English. I had skipped state testing because I had been to 6-7 elementary schools as my mom was skipping out on rent. Middle of 1st grade, a random teacher realizes I am reading library books brought from home in the back and not doing work; not common in a special ed classroom.
She called my mom and teacher to a meeting, had me tested as gifted, told my mom that I was pretending to not understand my teachers, and told us that in 2nd grade I was going to be in her room. I was in trouble for the first and last time in school.
Looking back, this is such an impactful memory. She was the only teacher who cared about me at all. When they opened my backpack at the meeting, I had it packed with random books. I had encyclopedias from my grandparents house, stuff from 3 school libraries, magazines.
Mrs. Judah changed my life because she cared enough to ask the librarian what language I spoke to help me pick more age appropriate books. I was reading a high school level novel because the school had just been converted from k-12.
It turns out high school books were appropriate for me; not age appropriate but reading level. I love her and will never forget the stash of books she kept for me when they converted the library for k-5.”
17. Thanks for the ride.
“My band teacher drove me home several times after the 7 pm Jazz Band practice.
My Dad was supposed to pick me up, but several times he fell asleep and didn’t answer the phone when I tried to call.”
18. A great professor.
“The professor I had for my calculus 100 class in university was awesome. He was a good teacher and funny and engaging. If it was a first year class with over 100 people in it.
I was just a face in a big crowd. I was on campus after hours a couple years after I graduated (they run programs for kids in the evenings and was dropping off my oldest) and I saw him. He stopped, looked at me hard, and said “<first name> <last name>. Not a bad student. Not great. But definitely not bad.” And kept walking.
This was a good 6 years after I graduated. Absolutely amazed he would have remembered me at all after teaching how many hundreds of students in between. That is just crazy.”
19. That’s amazing.
“Mrs Jones in third grade.
My dad had just deserted us and we were suddenly destitute. She bought my school pictures and paid my lunch bill all year. She never said a word about
Only found out later. Bless her.”
20. You can do it.
“Told me I was smart and could succeed.
I had spent the past couple years at a private school, trying so hard to prove myself. Despite doing well academically, I didn’t fit their cookie cutter mold, so I was looked down on by other students and administration. When I told the guidance counselor that I wanted to be premed and go to medical school after college, she pretty much told to lower my expectations because I wouldn’t succeed.
At the end of my college math class my senior year of high school, I ended up in my professors office to look at what I had missed on my final. He told me that I had done well, and that I could my PhD in math if I wanted. That was not what I wanted to do, but when I told him I wanted to be premed, he looked at me and said you’re going to well in that. I know you will succeed.
6 years later and I’m halfway through my second year of medical school, and his words still ring in my mind.”
21. Spotted it.
“Kn my senior year, my English teacher asked me if I was manic depressive after turning in a personal essay, only for me to get diagnosed with bipolar disorder a week later.”
22. A helping hand.
“Had a high school art teacher who would let me stay in his classroom during lunches.
Always gave me half his sandwich and other extra food because he knew I didn’t eat much otherwise.”
23. A big heart.
“In 5th grade I had this teacher who was very… gruff.
Most of us didn’t like her because she was such a hard*ss. Like military style with discipline and homework completion. She wasn’t mean, but she wasn’t nice either.
Then I found out my parents were getting a divorce. I showed up to school one day visibly upset, kinda shaky, and had obviously been been crying. She basically grunt rasped “Hallway. Now.” I was so not in the mood to be scolded and I knew I was a mess…
I stomped out into the hallway. She told me she knew what was happening at home, asked me if I was ok, then listened to me sob and break down about how I felt. She gave me a hug and asked if I wanted to spend an hour or so in the library since she knew I loved books and then I could ground myself.
It was so unexpectedly kind. I will never forget it. I found out later she was so gruff and short with us because she’d been teaching for a long time and kids are mean.
She had some sort of health condition that left her in pain most of the time and she had to use a cane which caused her to hunch a bit. Over the years all the meanness of the kids made her a little hard and cold. But she really did care about her students.”
24. A big moment.
“At my high school, we had an annual week long science trip, fully paid for by fundraising. Only 4 people were selected to go each year.
My sophomore year, I was chosen. I knew there was no way I was going to be allowed to go. I had never been out of the state, never been on a single vacation, never been on a plane and never been away from home for more than 24 hours. My parents were incredibly conservative and immediately said no.
I had a science teacher who just didn’t accept the no. Instead of just giving up and selecting someone else, he called and tried to convince my parents. When that didn’t work, he came to my house and had dinner with my family to convince my dad that I would be an asset and he would be doing me a disservice by not letting me go.
He sat and ate my mom’s terrible cooking and talked to my parents for over 2 hours until he got a “we’ll think about it”. Then he just kept following up.
I had never had someone in my corner like that before, who was willing to go to bat for me like that. He wore them down and it was the best week of my teenage life. I’d never seen the ocean. 20 years later and I can still recall every detail of that trip. It was a major pivot point for me.”
Did a teacher ever do something to you that you never forgot?
If so, share your stories with us in the comments.
We’d love to hear from you!