Each of us, I am sure, can remember a teacher (or many teachers!) who had a significant and positive influence on our lives – or on our children’s lives. They may have helped us grasp a difficult concept, inspired us to follow our dreams that led to our eventual careers, or helped us through a difficult personal challenge.
Teachers hold a special place in our hearts here at Republic Wireless. As we reflect on our role in the technology sector, we appreciate and respect the challenges teachers face every day in incorporating technology into their classrooms, while also teaching their students how to develop healthy relationships with technology and screens.
While our low-cost My Choice plan is a great fit for anyone who wants to spend less money on their cell phone bill and more money on the important things in life, we wanted to extend the savings even more for those who are responsible for shaping the future of our nation’s youth. We are excited to announce our new Educator Appreciation Program, which provides K-12 teachers and support staff with 50% off their cell phone bills when activated with a valid school email address!
In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, read on to learn more about the amazing teachers who have inspired some of our team members.
Raschelle N. fondly remembers her high school English teacher
When growing up, every kid gets asked what they want to be when they grow up. Often times it’s an astronaut, a firefighter, actor, doctor, etc. For me, I wasn’t sure where I was headed until high school. My freshman year of high school, I had a teacher, Mrs. Stephenson, who changed my life. She’s an amazing high school English teacher for freshmen and seniors who always encouraged her students to work harder, to think bigger, and to have fun in everything they did.
As a senior in my county, I had to complete a senior project. Most teachers had you select a highly-debated or high-importance topic from a preset list (i.e., politics, business, etc.). But Mrs. Stephenson believed that if we picked a topic that was important and meaningful to each of us, we’d be more motivated to put more effort and heart into the project. With that, my topic was… chocolate. That’s right; I wrote an entire research report on the types and effects of chocolate. It was so much fun, and I can definitely say that I put more work into that project (willingly!) than any other project I’ve ever done.
Mrs. Stephenson had an amazing way of connecting with each student. She always cared so deeply and so personally for each individual who walked through her door. I was lucky enough to have had Mrs. Stephenson in my life during some difficult times. There were so many mornings when she’d let me into her classroom early (probably the only free time for teachers) to vent and to talk through some of the things going on in my life. She was an amazing coach and voice of reason when that wasn’t there for me otherwise. When things got really tough for me, she was there to pick me up at night or to take me out to dinner to chat. She was my confidante, my hero, and my motivation to make it through those times.
“She always cared so deeply and so personally for each individual who walked through her door.”
The most defining moment of our relationship was during my senior year. I had applied to several colleges, but couldn’t decide where I wanted to go. I knew I had to pay for school myself, so that was a huge factor in my decision. She went with me to Meredith College on a tour. I fell in love with the campus that day and loved everything about it, but struggled to work through the financial obligation. She knew that things would work out, and immediately paid my entry fee to college—she knew what my strengths and my needs were, even though I couldn’t see them myself. That decision alone ended up shaping the rest of my life.
“She knew what my strengths and my needs were, even though I couldn’t see them myself.”
I went on to complete my undergraduate degree, and would later go on to pursue an MBA. Her mentorship, guidance, and faith in me have pushed me beyond my own perceptions of myself and what I believed I could achieve. She continues to be a role model to me, but also for other young girls who don’t always see their own strength and ability. She is one of the strongest women I have ever met and I strive every day to be as fearless as she is, and try to exude the same good will to anyone I encounter. Thank you “Mama Stephenson” for all that you have done for me, and also for every student that has been lucky to have had you as a teacher and friend.
“Her mentorship, guidance, and faith in me have pushed me beyond my own perceptions of myself and what I believed I could achieve.”
Kevin M. credits his high school pre-calculus teacher for encouraging him to strive for the best
In 10th grade, I had a medical situation that required me to miss almost 2 months of school. When I returned, I was extremely fortunate to have many teachers who dedicated their own time outside of normal hours to tutoring me and getting me caught up. Just to get back into a full course load, many of my classes became pass/fail during that time since I needed to show I could get to the next topic to get back on schedule.
Well, it was easy to say I fell into a bit of a laziness streak with schoolwork for the rest of that year, having come out of this situation feeling like I had no obstacles in my path and was generally invincible. Most teachers obliged, as I had worked so hard to get to that point. One didn’t, though. Mrs. L. was my Pre-Calc teacher and had helped tutor me to get caught up. Once I was back in normal class, however, she didn’t treat me differently than anyone else. I got bad grades on tests of current subjects because I didn’t feel like I needed to try.
I managed to get the lowest grade in that class of any in my entire school career. As someone who’s now worked in Finance for his entire career, having that lowest grade in a math class was obviously horrifying to me at the time! When I talked to Mrs. L. about the grade, she helped me understand how she’d seen my work ethic and perseverance in leaps and bounds during my recovery and catching up, so she could tell I was being lazy now. She talked about how I shouldn’t use my situation as a crutch, but instead as motivation for getting the best out of myself. It was the advice and wake up call I needed.
“She helped me understand how she’d seen my work ethic and perseverance in leaps and bounds during my recovery.”
That experience helped drive me to not accept less than the best from myself in schoolwork and in my eventual work career. I’m certainly more successful today because of it! Thanks, Mrs. L.!
Pete M. found inspiration in an unexpected place – one of his most dreaded subjects – thanks to an encouraging teacher
I was a poor student throughout most of grade school, preferring to sketch cartoonish drawings versus applying myself to school work. But my least favorite subject by far was mathematics. Memorizing multiplication tables was sheer torture, and classroom speed-solving challenges left me embarrassed.
This all changed in the eighth grade thanks to my math teacher, Ms. Blanc. She had the unenviable task of selecting a subset of students to challenge themselves with the study of Algebra versus staying focused on the regular math curriculum. I have no recollection of being interviewed for this opportunity, and if I had, I would have likely rejected the offer to change subject matter.
“Ms. Blanc’s insightfulness and trust in my abilities changed the course of my life and I’m very grateful to her to this day.”
Thankfully, Ms. Blanc saw something in me that I didn’t then see in myself. When she placed me in the Algebra program, math went from dull, rote memorization to challenging puzzle solving. My grade trajectory reversed, not just in math, but in other classes as well. There were certainly other changes in the subsequent years that helped me become a lifelong learner, but I’ve often thought about how Ms. Blanc’s insightfulness and trust in my abilities changed the course of my life and I’m very grateful to her to this day.
Mike O. reflects on the importance of community and passion in education
I grew up in a very small community and went to a high school of less than 100 students, with a graduating class of only sixteen. Throughout college and my career, friends and colleagues are always fascinated when I mention my class size. I’m often asked how that was possible and what we did for fun. I’m even ribbed with a few farming jokes along the way.
But, I’ve always felt incredibly blessed that I attended Ashton High School. Now that I have kids of my own, both in a very large school, I recognize even more how truly special my educational experience was. I can only imagine that the challenges for teachers and administrators in a small school with small budgets are potentially even greater than the challenges that larger schools face.
Beyond providing core educational experiences, these teachers must prepare their students for college and life beyond college, while also encouraging them to develop accountability and compassion for others. These teachings are only possible through a full commitment to students, a strong sense of community, and a passion for education – I was incredibly fortunate that these factors all surrounded me throughout my formative years.
“These teachings are only possible through a full commitment to students, a strong sense of community, and a passion for education.”
While there were many teachers that exemplified these behaviors, my high school math teacher, Traci Gittleson, had a significant impact on me. Not just because math was my favorite subject, but as a young teacher, not far removed from college, she was very relatable. And, of course, as a great teacher, she made the coursework challenging while having fun doing it.
But, it was how she fit in to the community that really made her stand out. As a young out-of-towner, I can only imagine the initial challenges she faced coming into a small, close-knit community like ours. However, you would have never known, thanks to her daily enthusiasm for classes. She ultimately married, raised children, and became very active in the community and is still there today. Her devotion to not only teaching but also her family and community is amazing. She is one of many teachers that I look forward to seeing when I go back home, usually once a year.
We truly owe our teachers support and most importantly, gratitude for all they do for us and for our children! Thanks to all the teachers out there!
A high school English teacher helped Victoria S., one of our content writers, find her voice
At the end of high school, you make some pretty major decisions at an age where you don’t know yourself very well yet. Colleges, majors, career paths… It’s a lot to take in for a 17-year-old. But sometimes people are there to help you. They give you the tools or the encouragement you need to get to know yourself and what you really want. I had my family to help me, but I also had some amazing teachers in my life to help along the way. Dr. Kinsey, by far, had the biggest impact on where I am today.
Dr. Kinsey came out of retirement when I was in 11th grade to cover for my English teacher who was taking care of her new baby. And, as a former college professor, his class was more serious, more rigorous, and vastly more interesting than any lit class I’d ever taken. For the first time, literature wasn’t about plot memorization and spitting out summaries. Writing wasn’t about five formulaic paragraphs. Sparknotes was out of the question—the class was was free-form, analytic, and challenging.
“The class was free-form, analytic, and challenging.”
When we read Faulkner, Shakespeare, and Tennessee Williams, we had discussions, not lectures. It opened up our minds, helped us listen to each other, and even understand humanity a little better in the process. Our class loved him so much that he stayed on to co-educate us in the 12th grade. Being selected for Dr. Kinsey’s hallway lit analysis was one of the highlights of my senior year.
Dr. Kinsey helped me find my writing voice and taught me that it’s ok to break the strict rules of grammar to express a point of view or an emotion. He helped me fine-tune my essays, and other things I wrote. He always had valuable feedback for me, but never platitudes or pointless compliments. He taught me that I could never rest on my laurels and there was always a way to improve.
“He taught me that I could never rest on my laurels and there was always a way to improve.”
As graduation got closer and I was looking at colleges and majors, Dr. Kinsey pulled me aside to have a frank conversation. He told me it would be a waste if I didn’t keep writing. I was shocked and ecstatic. That moment is so special to me—it keeps me going when I feel stuck or down. Dead Poet’s Society has nothing on Dr. Kinsey. He’ll always be my role model, inspiration, and the reason I write.
You Can Help!
Want to thank the special teachers in your life (or your children’s lives)? Let them know about Republic Wireless’s new Educator Appreciation Program. We’d love to help them save money on their cell phone bills, so they can spend more on the people and experiences that are most important to them.
If you are not currently a Republic Wireless member and you work in a K-12 school, we’d love to have you! Click here to sign up for our Educator Appreciation Program.
If you are already a Republic Wireless member working in a K-12 school and you would like be included in the Educator Appreciation Program, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org from your school email address, and indicate the email address associated with your account.