Great Teachers Believe in “Those Little Eyes Looking Up At You”

Pearson recently sat down with a handful of teaching veterans who’ve been recognized as Teachers of the Year in their own states. They talked about their craft, their students—and the future of learning.

Encouraging the Next Generation of Great Teachers

Laura Drake has been a mentor for a lot of student teachers.

The 2013 Wyoming Teacher of the Year says in order to become great teacher, you first need “to find someone to support you.”

Whether bringing a cup of coffee or identifying professional development needs, these supports make all the difference in keeping teachers in the classroom and growing the profession.

Barbara LaSaracina, New Jersey’s 2001 Teacher of the Year says teaching “is one of the professions where we tend to eat our young.”

It’s something, she says, we can’t afford. Many states are facing a teacher shortage, with too many teachers leaving the cla­­ssroom in the first three to five years.

“We need them, I mean, they need to grow and become the future of education,” she says. “Otherwise, who will educate our children and our grandchildren?”

‘The Long Game’

Heidi Welch, New Hampshire’s 2013 Teacher of the Year, says that great teachers have to believe that they make a difference.

“I think what makes a great teacher is being able to see the long game,” she says, “knowing that if you’re a first grade teacher that maybe when the kid graduates as a senior you may have had some impact on that kid getting through school—for them being successful later in life.”

But, for Heidi, it isn’t just about test scores and academics.

She says “It’s about the joy, it’s about making sure that the kids leave their school experience with a joy and a yearning for learning and continuing to learn.”

This is part of a series of conversations with great teachers. Hear the other inspirational stories: