Our Northwest

An appreciation for teachers

Thursday, May 5, 2016by  Michelle Sievers

Michelle Sievers in sixth grade

Everyone remembers that one teacher that made an impact on your life – that one teacher or program that taught in “a little different” way that inspired you and helped you grow. For me, it was Mr. Bailey, my sixth-grade teacher at Tacoma’s Larchmont Elementary School. Mr. Bailey would make us spontaneously free-form write in our personal journals at least once a week on a theme or topic – we never knew when we would write, what the topic would be, or how much time we’d have. But the spontaneity was exhilarating. It helped me to be flexible, think on my feet, and be creative. I suddenly loved to express myself through writing – a love that carried through middle school, high school and eventually the University of Washington, where I graduated with an English degree. (And I still have my original green journal!)

school notebookSo I know from experience that when teachers take "a little different" approach in the classroom, it can make a big difference for students. In my role as community relations manager at PEMCO, I'm fortunate – I get to work with KCTS 9 to help shine a light on some of those innovative, inspiring teachers and programs in Washington, through our "Golden Apple Moments" videos. The monthly videos, which began airing in January, honor schools, educators and programs that are making a positive difference in the classroom.

(You might be wondering why an insurance company cares so much about educators. Well, it's pretty simple: PEMCO was founded by a Seattle Public Schools teacher more than 60 years ago, and we continue to honor our roots by focusing part of our corporate giving on investing in education and youth causes.)

We debuted our final Golden Apple Moment video this week, featuring Scriber Lake High School English teacher Marjie Bowker. She's an incredible teacher whose narrative writing program empowers at-risk teens to help share their stories, both on paper and through theater. The results are amazing: "Marjie literally saved my life," says one student.

Take a minute during Teacher Appreciation Week (May 2-6) to think back to your school days. Who was that one educator who had a positive impact in your life? It might be the school librarian who fostered your love of reading; the math teacher who made geometry fun; or the photography instructor who inspired you to see the world through a different lens. If you get the chance this week, thank a teacher!

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