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White House Science and Tech Staff Thank Their Teachers

In celebration of Teacher Appreciation Week—and specifically National Teacher Appreciation Day today—OSTP staff wanted to thank and highlight some of the teachers who have had the most impact on our lives.

In celebration of Teacher Appreciation Week—and specifically National Teacher Appreciation Day today—OSTP staff wanted to thank and highlight some of the teachers who have had the most impact on our lives.

You can join the chorus of praise!  Secretary Arne Duncan is asking that Americans everywhere join him today and donate their Facebook status to a teacher who has made a difference in their lives, and thank a teacher on Twitter by using the hashtag #ThankaTeacher.

Every day, teachers take on the daunting responsibility of building the minds of the future. Below are some of our staffers’ thoughts on the vast collection of teachers who influenced their lives:

“Many teachers influenced me as a student, but none more than Mr. Francis L. Avey, Jr. at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School in Richmond, VA.  Mr. Avey taught my small middle school class in 7th and 8th grade everything from English literature to civics and history to religion.  And he did it all with great enthusiasm and humor.”  – Peter Colohan, Senior Policy Analyst, Environment and Energy Division

“My favorite teacher was B.K. Mundy of Virginia Episcopal School.  Mr. Mundy not only taught me 10th grade U.S. government and 12th grade World History but also coached me in football and track. I’ll always remember his classroom mentoring provided me tools for learning, organizing, and critical study habits that I still use today.” – Reed Skaggs, Senior Policy Analyst, National Security and International Affairs Division

 “One of my favorite teachers is Fr. Perham, my computer programming and math teacher at St. Viator High School in Arlington Heights, IL.  The most important lesson that I learned from Fr. Perham was to take my mistakes in stride and learn from them. My other favorite teacher is my wife Adriana Kurfess, a 7th grade science teacher who studied Mechanical Engineering at MIT.  Her dedication to education is clearly reflected in the enthusiasm that her students have for the sciences.” – Tom Kurfess, Assistant Director for Advanced Manufacturing

“I was fortunate to learn from so many extraordinary science teachers within the public school system in Jacksonville, Florida.  Ms. Osborn set our elementary school class loose to dissect fetal pigs; Mr. Sweetsir turned our middle school into a research and development simulation; and Mr. Phanstiel wrote his own songs to teach advanced high school chemistry.  I’m indebted to each of these educators, and so many others.” – Doug Rand, Senior Policy Advisor

“To Mr. Mar and Mr. Streetz, my 7th grade math and science teachers; and Mr. Rosenberg, Mr. Smilde and Ms. Hall, my high school world history and English teachers: Thank you for teaching me how to solve questions without simple answers, and how to figure out the best way to say what you mean!” – Chelsea Martinez, Fellow

“The further I go in my career, the more I use what I learned in Miss Nelson’s 10th grade English class. I don’t often refer to the plays of Shakespeare, but I always need to write and speak clearly, correctly, and persuasively. Forty years after the Ubangi Academy, I still say thanks to Miss Nelson!” – Chuck Thorpe, Advanced Manufacturing and Robotics

“I was inspired by many of my math and science teachers throughout my education, but I became a scientist because of Mr. Mazur, my AP chemistry teacher at Troy High School, in Troy, New York.  Mr. Mazur loved chemistry and it was contagious!  He sparked my interest in discovering new things through scientific research by encouraging us to dig in and experiment!” – Danielle Evers, AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow

“The teacher who most influenced me was Mr. Posey at John Marshall High School in San Antonio, Texas.  He established a research laboratory for high school students in a rural school where the previous focus had been on agriculture and equipped it with one of the earliest computers.” – Deborah D. Stine, Executive Director, President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST)

“I had several teachers over the years that impacted my life, but my 6th grade teacher, Mrs. Hendershot, was the first who helped me embrace my own humor, viewpoints, and areas of interest.  She pushed me to further explore my unique personality and view of the world, and she made me feel comfortable with who I was.  Among the gifts a teacher can give you – confidence in who you are is one of the greatest. Thank you, Mrs. Hendershot.” – Karrie Pitzer, Executive Assistant

“My high school biology teacher could transform a room of Drosophila flies into an experiment with excitement and discovery. Dr. Thomas Artiss, who now teaches at Stevenson School in California, is an incredible mentor who has encouraged and inspired me for over a decade.” – Jennifer Lee, Associate Counsel

“I had a very special math teacher throughout junior high and high school at the Golda Och Academy in West Orange, NJ.  Mrs. Londino made numbers exciting. She connected with her students and instilled a love of logic that I still retain today.” – Becky Fried, Policy Analyst, Environment and Energy Division

“I’d like to thank Dr. Timothy Roberts, who taught Latin at Jefferson City High School. He always made ‘being smart’ seem like the most adventurous thing on the planet.” – Constance Squire, Policy Analyst

“I want to thank Mrs. Heyle, my senior-year English teacher, for making me want to be a good writer. I still work on my writing every day, but her patience, wisdom, and good cheer remains a treasured memory.” – Kumar Garg, Senior Advisor to the Deputy Director

“I’ll never forget Diane Emord, my biology teacher at Henninger High School in Syracuse, NY. She never made it easy and she never doubted that I could do it. Her class was engaging; the lab activities were fun. She’s one of the reasons why I felt like I had a knack for science.”– Nafeesa Owens, Policy Analyst

“I was lucky to have many wonderful teachers in high school who gave up not only their working hours but their weekends to environmental adventures, special video projects, debate tournaments, and Robert Burns’ shortbread. But my 6th grade teacher, Mr. Gonnelly at Hamden Hall in Hamden, CT, was the person who first taught me to appreciate a good challenge and seize every opportunity to understand the world beyond our classroom.” – Lauren Andersen, Policy Advisor

“My high school teacher heroine was Nellie Hill, the only biology teacher in Georgetown County, SC, who took an opportunity to engage high school kids in a marine biology project. Due to her talents and efforts,  Pleasant Hill High School, a small – graduating class of 37 students – in the inland-most part of the county, became the hub of a two-year project that piqued my curiosity about  things oceanographic and launched my career as an ocean scientist.”  – Jerry Miller, Assistant Director for Ocean Sciences

“Mrs. Levine and Mrs. Kroll at Tustin High School in Tustin, CA, took the time to get to know me and my classmates for who we were, tapping into our individual passions to get the most out of us. They knew I was passionate about technology and would always incentivize me to work harder by allowing me to do school projects in multimedia formats instead of a standard word document.” – Brian Forde, Advisor to the CTO on Mobile and Data Innovation

“I received excellent preparation for my academic pursuits, and, more importantly, for success in life, from dedicated and devoted teachers at Sligo School and Takoma Academy in Maryland: LeRoy Achenbach (geometry); Robert Albright (American history); Paul Copiz (social studies); Pauline David (math); Bruce Freeman (english); John Gibson (physics); Ray Hartlein (archaeology); Robert Hatt (math); Valerie Landis (english); and Ken Wilson (chemistry).” – Allan Manuel, Senior Policy Analyst, National Security and International Affairs

"My middle school and high school band teacher was Mr. Michael Hintzman, and he is my favorite teacher. As soon as I met him in 6th grade I could tell he was truly passionate about what he does. Inspiring children to do things outside their comfort area is one of the most important traits of a teacher, and Mr. Hintzman did that.  Also, he devotes tons of hours outside the school day to making sure his students are the best they can be. Thank you, Mr. Hintzman!” – Phil Larson, Communications and Policy Analyst