Celebrating the Teachers Who Made Us Who We Are

The teachers who leave the biggest impact on us are those who guide us to a new passion, foster those we already hold, and encourage us to pursue these passions beyond their classroom.

Many of those in education can point to the teacher, or teachers, who sparked their love for learning and teaching, and set them on a path to becoming an educator. 

For Teacher Appreciation Week, we asked our partners – teachers, principals, superintendents, EdTech innovators, and students who were impacted by EOS’ work – about the trusted adults who helped shape who they are today. 

What we heard reinforces what we know to be true: Teachers who believe in the potential of all their students, and who challenge and support them at the same time, nurture passions that can become lifelong vocations. 

Read about the teachers who opened doors for our partners below.

Oumie Hydara

First-Year Student, Dartmouth College

Graduate, Bartlett High School in Anchorage

“In my journey in high school, especially with engaging with EOS, I think my most impactful teacher definitely would have been Juliet Campbell. She was my AP biology teacher my junior year, and she’s just so amazing. She really taught me what it meant to not just work hard, but also keep a constant realm of just being motivated. And I feel like that really helped characterize my high school career as a young black woman.”

“Someone that has really helped inspire me over the years has been my varsity cheer coach and mentor coach, Tanisha Williams. She is just so amazing and she really embodies everything that I hope to achieve. She’s so forceful, so amazing, so driven – she just sparks so much energy and light that comes from within her.”

Amanda Paul

Director of Advanced Academic Access

NYC Public Schools

“I’ve been really lucky to have some amazing teachers over the course of my life. But one of the trusted adults that really stands out in terms of her impact on where I am today is Ebony Singleton. When I was a senior in high school, I had no idea what I wanted to pursue in college, I applied everywhere undecided, and spring of my senior year, she actually took an interest in me, and we had a conversation around what my interests were and what I wanted to do in college. I explained to her that I love teaching, but I grew up hearing that teachers don’t make a lot of money – and who doesn’t want to make a lot of money? So I ruled out teaching, and I loved visual design, which was the class that I was taking, and she was a student teacher in. So, she turned to me and said, ‘well, why don’t you teach visual design?’ and it was like a light bulb went off in my head. That thought had never crossed my mind. But that thought prompted me to pursue a career in teaching visual design, and it’s led me to where I am today. So I’m immensely grateful for that conversation; the impact that she’s had on my life from just that one interaction.”

Alison Gazarek

Director, Education at Intentional Futures

“One of my most impactful teachers was Mr. Williams, my English teacher in high school. Mr. Williams made it clear that he was much more interested in our learning than assigning us grades; that we were far smarter than we gave ourselves credit for; and that true rigor was not in the form of ‘doing school’, but in deeply thinking, writing, and engaging with literature that he made relevant both to us and to the real world. He changed my understanding of myself as an intellectual and someone who ‘belonged’ in school, and ignited my passion for authentic, effective teaching that has informed my entire career. Thank you, Mr. Williams!”

Ché A. Carter

Principal, Huron High School

Ann Arbor Public Schools

“Reflecting on my journey, I am deeply grateful for the teachers who shaped my early years. They were not just instructors; they were nation builders, architects of character, and champions of potential. Northside Elementary School in Ann Arbor, Michigan. These remarkable individuals set high expectations, inspired growth and nurtured creativity. They treated us with dignity, instilling pride in our abilities. However, if I were to single out one teacher, it would be my mother Lucindia Shelton. She provided a blueprint for success. The influence of great teachers leaves an indelible mark, shaping lives. I’ll spend my remaining years paying it forward.”

Samantha Chu 

Assistant Principal, Brooklyn School for Social Justice

“My most trusted adult growing up and when I was in high school was Mr. Christopher Cascone. He was my math teacher for 9th, 10th, and 12th grade. But what made him my trusted adult is that he was invested in more than just how I was doing in the math classroom; he was also interested in one of my passions, which is dance. And in my senior year of high school, I was applying to an arts school, and I had to audition and create a dance routine, and he wanted to see it. So, I got to show him this other side that he normally wouldn’t see. And his immediate response was, congratulations. And when I got accepted into that dance program, he was with me by my side. He was supportive of all aspects of my life, including the things that weren’t happening in the classroom and some things that were going on at home. He didn’t know all the details, but he always knew when I was having a good day or a bad day, and he was just always a constant person that I needed to support me throughout high school.”

“I was allowed to be me all the time, and he accepted it. And just having that relationship with him not only led me into the teaching and education career, but also the type of teacher I wanted to be and who I wanted to be, and how to show up for my students every day. He continues to be that inspiration of how I build relationships with my students too, by looking at them not just for what they do in the classroom, but all aspects of their lives – that level of investment that he took with me, I try to take with all my students.”

Ryan Smith

EOS Superintendent in Residence

“When I was a freshman in college, I was completely lost and disengaged as a business major. I played basketball in high school and had always been interested in becoming a teacher and coach. An assistant coach at the college I was attending made a call to Chris Carter at Rancho Bernardo High School and encouraged him to give me a chance, launching my more than 25 years of service in public education. Coach Carter was so much more than a high school basketball coach and teacher of the game however he was also an outstanding chemistry teacher. I will never forget his wise advice, “Ryan, if you are going to be a great basketball coach, you must be an even greater classroom teacher.” His mentorship, encouragement, and friendship inspired me to change my major to math (Coach also told me that great math teachers are always in short supply), putting me on the path toward a teaching position. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for Coach Carter seeing something in me at that critical stage of my life and taking the time to help me reach my potential. I am forever grateful.”

Terry-Ann Samuel

Senior Director of Instruction, AP For All

New York City Department of Education

“I would start with high school. I had several teachers who saw me and understood who I was, understood that I was going through some challenges, and were able to put me in places and spaces to be able to have support. I didn’t know that they even knew what was going on, and I don’t know if they ever really did, but it made a difference in helping me to succeed and graduate from high school. Once making it to college, Professor Estella Conwill Majozo was my English professor Black woman; very, very strong; very much about the course. She was the inspiration for me to become an English teacher and I wanted to be an inspiration for other young people. For me, when I think about what is the most revolutionary thing that I can do, it’s to become a teacher and that way I’d be able to touch the future and to allow other young people to be who they want to be in the best way possible.”