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.
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!
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.
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!