Think Write Thursday this week is all about teachers – especially a favorite teacher that most influenced you and how.

Teachers can change lives with just the right mix of chalk and challenges. Joyce Meyer

And thus, began the great internal debate – which teacher to use…

I suppose I am fortunate that I had so many great teachers over the years. However, there are two teachers and one very special aide who had tremendous impact on my life as a student and their influence stayed with me far beyond the classroom to my daily life.


To start out – I moved midway through first grade and that meant a new school – Lakewood Elementary on the “north side” of Holland, Michigan. Not much fun at all when you are a child of any age, but it was especially difficult because it was obvious that I was woefully behind my classmates in so many things. The worst of which was reading. I was not reading at all, yet my classmates were. Luckily, I spent time every single day with Mrs. Hayward and it was with her help that I began to read. She opened new doors for me and with her help I became a voracious reader. She helped me get caught up to my classmates and I then just blew past them. It might have been a slow start, but once I got going there was no stopping me! Thank you so much Mrs. Hayward!



The first teacher I want to share with you was my second-grade teacher, Miss Vanden Belt. Until I began to work on this post, I never realized that my second-grade year was her first year of teaching! Miss Vanden Belt was extra-special! She was the first teacher that truly made me excited about learning. I thought she was magical – she dressed just so perfectly, her enthusiasm was catching, and simply put – I just wanted to make her happy so I eagerly did whatever she asked! Now, I went to pre-historic grade school and there was never any homework. But, she kept the fire burning in me for reading and I devoured books – in class, from the school library, and even those great wonders – Scholastic Books! But, perhaps the best thing about Miss Vanden Belt was that she never forgot her students.


I could run into her in Meijer’s and she would be as excited to see you as she was when you walked into class each morning. And, when you saw her again, she remembered your last conversation and asked how things were. And, you knew she sincerely wanted to know. I have not seen Miss Vanden Belt in years, but I think of her often.



The last teacher that had a tremendous impact on my life was Mr. Berghorst – he was my high school English teacher. I really loved him and took as many classes with his as I could. He was a very popular teacher with the students. Honestly, I can confidently say that he was everyone’s favorite teacher. As you can see, he was such a snappy dresser and was so different from every other teacher I ever had. He was a bit theatrical and his room was not your typical class room in very conservative Holland, Michigan. Encircling the room were hundreds of New Yorker magazine covers. I had never heard of the New Yorker magazine before Mr. Berghorst and that was just one of many things that he opened my eyes to during the classes I had with him. He taught the importance of critical thinking. His class room was a place that fostered lively discussion and how crucial listening is. He shared that there was a big huge world outside of West Michigan and he encouraged us to discover it with open minds. In his class I learned to overcome my fear of speaking in public, I learned how to write a paper that someone would want to read, and I learned that an open mind is the best thing you could possibly possess.

These very special people all had a wonderful influence on what and who I am today. I am so very grateful for all they imparted to my life.

If you would like to join Carole and I on our Thursday writing journey, you can sign up here.


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