Oh, Captain, My Captain! To Teach is Human; To Inspire is Divine

May 6, 2019

By Hillary Jade, IEA Program Manager

It’s Teacher Appreciation Week! IEA Program Manager Hillary Jade shares her thoughts on why teachers should be appreciated, revered and supported.

Last week, IEA’s Academy program hosted its second Teacher Appreciation Evening, which was instituted in December as a way to honor our teachers who inspire, challenge, motivate, and encourage their students each session. Throughout the evening, Academy teachers shared stories, anecdotes and quotes from the Spring 2019 session – all of which were inspirational, witty, and indicative of the high caliber students who grace us with their presence every day. Truly, our teachers are invested, observant, passionate and committed to serving the gifted and talented students who walk through our doors.

As we reflect on the end of the Spring session – and the end of the school year at large – a fitting pop culture anecdote comes to mind:

Dead Poets’ Society is the quintessential teacher appreciation movie. Throughout the film, John Keating – played brilliantly by the late Robin Williams – inspires a group of reluctant prep school teenagers to love poetry, whether intentionally or unintentionally. Some of them dig in their heels; some of them instantly embrace it. When they find his old yearbook and learn he was a member of the Dead Poets’ Society, they strive to emulate him and his legacy. For he wasn’t a poetry nerd; he was a poetry god. The most iconic line of the movie is often quoted in everyday life: “Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.”

“There’s a time for daring and there’s a time for caution, and a wise man understands which is called for,” Keating goes on to explain, hitting home the need to push oneself and take risks – albeit calculated ones. And that is why he, like our instructors, is passionate, revered, talented and sensitive to the needs of adolescents.

IEA teachers don’t settle for second best. They push students to push themselves. Keating emphasizes to his students, “A man is not very tired. He’s exhausted. And don’t use ‘very sad.’ Use…’morose’!” On the post-class student surveys we distribute each session we frequently get feedback like, “This class was challenging – but in all the right ways!” Instead of doing the minimum, Academy students stretch their boundaries, their limits and their safety net to produce extraordinary results. They couldn’t do this without our teachers, who burst through the Learning Center doors excited to delve into the differentiated curriculum.

Thank you, teachers, for inspiring our students to be engineers, historians, makers, debaters, scholars, peacemakers, artists, and innovators. You are the reason our students run up the sidewalk each day, eager and excited to learn from you and engage in academic inquiry. You are the reason we have such a high session-to-session student return rate. You are the reason we are able to offer innovative classes that students can’t find anywhere else, such as Zoo Design, Math for Future Architects and Rube-Goldberg: Machine and Mazes. Because of you, the Learning Center is filled with inquiry, laughter, advocacy, positive challenge, friendship, curiosity and heart.

As we head into Teacher Appreciation week, we encourage everyone to take time to thank the teacher(s) that has/have meant the most to them – whether in-person, via a hand-written card (a true form of appreciation!) or by recommending them or their class to other students. During an impassioned analysis of poetry with his students, Keating proclaims, “No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world!” We firmly believe that. In fact, we know that to be true of our instructors and the students who admire them.

 Here are a few quotes from our Spring session, directly from students, about their teachers:

“I don’t think there could possibly have been a better teacher for Kitchen Chemistry than Miss Alka. She’s amazing and knows everything!” – Sebastian (8)

“Alka was SUCH a fun teacher to work with. She taught the KITCHEN CHEMISTRY class. She helped us if we needed help. She corrected us if we were wrong. And best of all, she was very, VERY nice.”

“Tristan was an AMAZING teacher to talk and relate with. I was in his class NEWTON: FORCES IN MOTION. I loved the apple-dropping experiment . Especially the part where you get to eat the apples (there were three apples.)* Tristan also helped us. He also corrected us. And he WAS NICE.”

Want to learn more about IEA Academy? Visit our Academy webpage to view upcoming classes and apply today.

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