INSPIRING TEACHERS: ‘You know, they’d have a special place in your heart’

As students head back to school for 2013-14, it’s good to keep in mind the impact that teachers can have on young people.

In the spring of 2013, Dan Goldman asked teachers in the Hood River County School District to ask some of their students to write about “an adult who has made a difference.”

Dozens of students happily wrote such essays, which Goldman, the new superintendent of the district, keeps in his office.

Goldman chose three essays for the Aug. 28 Welcome Back Teachers event at Hood River Middle School.

The students read their essays and presented them to the teachers they wrote about.

(The only editing we did was to change “Mrs.” or “Ms.” to first names.)

Lillie Tomlinson,

Westside Elementary School

The teacher that had a positive impact on me was (Kathryn) Ritter, my 2nd and 3rd grade teacher. She was kind, respectful, and let people know when she was mad, sad or excited about something.

I liked Mrs. Ritter for many reasons, but here are three of my favorites. She worked out problems with a snap and she didn’t pressure me and she respected each kid the same. The qualities of Mrs. Ritter differ from the rest of the teachers. She has patience, when everyone else’s has drained. Mrs. Ritter can see good qualities in anyone good, bad, nice, naughty, mathematician, reading genius, science whiz, geography master and even more.

Mrs. Ritter never let a problem try to slip past; she’d snatch it up on the spot. Sometimes things don’t turn out like you want them to. That was a lesson she taught me. She’d have sympathy for any sadness and gratefulness for any present. And you knew it. The smile always reached her eyes as well as the frown. She always wore jewelry but she was never fully dressed without a smile. She always had one on her face even when she taught us. Never did she fake it.

When you come upon a person in your life you will know in an instant he or she will be a big part of your education. You see the look on their face: a beaming, dimply smile. People like this are always happy to see you. And then you know, they’d have a special place in your heart….forever. That’s how it was with Mrs. Ritter.

Martika Lane,

Hood River Middle School

The last two years (Candace) Carver has made an amazing impact in my life. She has made an impact by encouraging me to push myself until I reach my goals and I have improved in reading almost 600 points. Also, in math I use to be in the special ed math class but now I’m in a regular math class and I get A’s and B’s. She has made it so I believe in myself with wrestling, school, everything. I’m very lucky to have someone push me so much and help me reach my goals. I have never had such an amazing teacher who has given me so much support. I have gone to Ms. Carver for problems at school, advice, anything I have ever needed help with. I’m very thankful to have such an amazing teacher in my life. I really don’t want to move to 8th grade because I don’t want to have a different teacher. I’m a very lucky student to have spent two years with her.

Rosa Serrano,

Wy’east Middle School

In the past I have had several teachers that have inspired me a lot and they have also made a big impact in my life. There are many teachers that have changed my life, but there is just one teacher that has inspired me the most and that teacher is (Barb) Hoiika.

First of all, Mrs. Hoiika has always motivated me in many ways. She has always told me to stay positive. Even though I might not know what to do she will still tell me to try and to just do the ones I can. However, Mrs. Hoiika has also taught me how to enjoy life. She has also done many things this year to make me learn and stay focused.

Second, she has also helped me when I don’t understand things like in math or in science class. Mrs. Hoikka is very inspiring because she can encourage you to do many things that you think you are not capable of. She has also showed me that anything is possible and to never give up.

Third, even though she has helped me this year, she is also a very nice person. When I don’t understand any subject she helps me. When we play games in math on her iPad she gives us candy even though we didn’t win. She also lets us borrow a pencil or an eraser if we need one. Mrs. Hoiika is also a very funny and fun teacher. She also gives us advice and tells us what to do and what not to do.

In conclusion, Mrs. Hoiika has been a big influence in my life because she has taught me to never give up, and to always think of positive things like to enjoy life. She is also one of my favorite teachers and even though she is a teacher, she is also very fun to be around with.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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