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Thank YOU for being a teacher

By Ken Stoflet, Communications Specialist

These last few days, we’ve been celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week (speaking of which, have you seen our in-person thank you video?). In a blog post earlier this week, we highlighted three stories our Renaissance Royals community shared about educators who had profound impacts on their lives. Today, we want to highlight three stories our employees shared.

Beth Peters, Implementation Specialist

My grandma, Gloria Bathke, was principal for many years at St. Mary’s in Wisconsin Rapids, WI. She had a profound influence on my love of reading, my education, and my devotion to the mission of Renaissance. Some of my earliest memories are of sitting in her office after school, at her big desk, sorting papers, organizing pencils, and dreaming of becoming a teacher or a librarian. Luckily, around this time my grandma met Judy Paul, and along with other inspiring St. Mary’s staff, committed the school to piloting a new and exciting program—Renaissance Accelerated Reader®.

Many years have passed, and many Accelerated Reader quizzes have been taken, since I was that young girl at her grandma’s desk. What I’ve gained on my journey to adulthood, with my grandma’s help, is a deep passion for education, and the desire to motivate and inspire students to find thrill and adventure through reading.

I think of her every day when I look at the old glass paperweight that sits on my desk. The same paperweight sat on her desk years ago, and I know she would be proud of me. Love and thanks to the memory of my grandma and the impression she left on me!

Melissa Ripp, Director, PR & Communications

I was in third grade when I realized that I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. I would tell anyone who listened that I was going to write a million books, and I was going to handwrite them all, because at eight years old, I wanted to be authentic—none of that typewriter stuff.

Attending a rural school in northeast Wisconsin, I was far away from the wonders of the world—but fortunately, I had my Gifted & Talented teacher, Mr. Powers—or, as we liked to call him, “Mr. P.” He was the first person in my life to show me that geography wasn’t a barrier, and that books and writing provided me an opportunity to learn about the world around me as well as create worlds of my own.

I distinctly remember Mr. P telling me about the laughing hyenas that resided in sub-Saharan Africa. I became obsessed with them. What followed—a “novel” about a hyena who had lost his laugh—was the first of many literary masterpieces over my elementary, middle, and high school years. Mr. P was my go-to teacher for all of it, and was the one who lobbied my school to allow me to do an independent study in creative writing my senior year. He took a budding writer under his wing and gave me the encouragement and resources I needed. Mr. P, you’re still the absolute BEST.

Marc DeCarli, Sales Trainer

When I was a junior at an East Coast high school I decided to join the choir. At the time, I had played the trumpet for nearly seven years. Performing in front of an audience was not a new thing for me, but I was never comfortable doing it.

That year my choir teacher, Susan Rice, asked me to try out for the lead role in the school play, Pippin. I did. I got it. And I was scared out of my mind! I was out of my element. I had a lot of self-doubt. I think I quit two or three times. But Ms. Rice was persistent, albeit frustrated, and she never ever gave up on me. Ever. In the end, I didn’t give up, either.

About 15 years later I ran into her and her husband at a school in Oregon, WI. I was flush with emotion. When she introduced me to her husband she said, “This is Marc, the boy from Pippin I always told you about.” It seems I’d left as much of an impression on her as she had on me.

It was an experience and a lesson I never forgot: to believe in myself. The world is my audience. Show up every day. Be in the moment.

Do you have an educator who made an impact on your life? Let us know in the comments! For more heartwarming stories, head over to our Teacher Appreciation Week page. And seriously, thank you from each one of us at Renaissance. We appreciate you!

Ken Stoflet, Communications Specialist
Ken Stoflet, Communications Specialist
Ken Stoflet is the communications specialist at Renaissance. He has been with the company since 2015 and can be found crafting anything from a press release to a tweet. In his spare time, Ken enjoys spending time with his friends, lifting, and making trips to the Frozen Tundra to cheer on the Green Bay Packers.


  1. Renee Graham says:

    I loved school from the very beginning. I loved learning and enjoyed almost every subject throughout my educational journey. My fourth grade teacher solidified my love of reading. She read aloud to us every day after lunch. I still remember every detail of Charlotte’s Web. Mrs. Wilcoxin will always hold a special place in my heart.

  2. Lisa Capon says:

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. Dvawn Maza says:

    Nice stories.

  4. Virginia Wiedenfeld says:

    Thank you for sharing!

  5. Jody Steinhaus says:

    Education. The great equalizer.

  6. Elizabeth says:

    My kindergarten was and still is my superwoman!!! She made such an impression on me that has carried me through many troublesome times in my life

  7. Christina says:

    Great Stories!! Teachers are rockstars!!

  8. Dianne Jennings says:

    My favorite teacher was Mr. Koehler, my high school math teacher. He had so much enthusiasm and a great sense of humor..

  9. Mary says:

    I have several teachers I remember and try to take their most impressive remarks or guides and apply them today.

  10. Ann McGraw says:

    My High School English teacher, Mr. Love would not allow us to use the word nice. He believed there are so many more interesting words that using ‘nice’ was lazy and boring. I have always remembered his enthusiasm for words and now as a librarian I encourage my students to explore and try out new vocabulary!

  11. Melissa Robles says:

    Thanks for sharing!

  12. These are excellent! My favorite teacher Mrs. Barfield made us diagram sentences every day. One day I had to miss school because I was sick. I decided to diagram my excuse that my mother had written explaining to the teacher why I was out. She loved it and actually kept it in a frame on her wall for years!

  13. Diana Foxworthy says:

    My third Grade Teacher Mrs. Woodason made a big impact on reason to want to be a teacher. She cared about her students. She made learning fun.

  14. Gail Stapp says:

    My favorite subject in school was reading. I have always enjoyed reading and my teachers have always told me that you can put yourself in a book and go anywhere you want. That is true. I have taught my students the joy I have in reading and how reading is an important thing to know.

  15. RAby Neely says:

    My favorite teachers in school were my third and fourth grade teachers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. They helped me to understand I have special talents..