The day after Thanksgiving has been dubbed the "National Day of Listening." Started by StoryCorps in 2008, this holiday asks Americans to step away from the leftovers, football games and Black Friday sales in order to spend some time recording an interview with a loved one.
This year's National Day of Listening theme is "Thank a Teacher." Everyone remembers that one teacher who saw the best in you, put in hours of overtime, inspired greatness or taught you how to read.
On Friday, November 25, take a moment to thank those teachers who have influenced you. Post a memory of your favorite teacher on Facebook, Twitter (@storycorps, #thankateacher), or You Tube. Better yet, write a letter. Make a phone call. Once you do, be sure to let the StoryCorps team know about it by joining the wall of listening.
The NPR Communications team put together the pictures and memories below to say thanks to some our teachers; they've been more of an influence for good on us than they'll ever know.
Dana Davis Rehm (VP, Marketing, Communications and External Relations) Mutt and May were my kindergarten teachers. These two lovely and gracious Southern Baptist ladies, who wore flowery dresses and lavender powder, made entry into my school years an awesome experience and just generally ideal. The kindergarten class, which was held in an enormous old house in Jackson, MS, had a huge playroom with a linoleum floor decorated with characters from our favorite children's stories. My classmates and I would spend our days playing in the backyard of this estate: in the glorious playhouses and running around the forest. For lunch, local fisherman would bring freshly caught fish, which would be cooked up southern style. Every afternoon cookies would be served on silver trays while Mutt and May would teach us to sing. In harmony no less.
Caitlin Sanders (Media Relations Associate) Growing up in Texas had its ups and downs in the 90's, but it's teachers like Cindy Aiken at Kent Elementary School – home of the Bluebonnet Café – who make sure you don't end up writing all of your letters backwards for the rest of your life. I want to thank you Mrs. Aiken for being such a wonderful role model to both my sister Erin and I - we still look forward to your Christmas cards every year! Additionally, I can't forget to thank the best geography teacher I ever had - Mr. Domenico. Honestly, who knows where I would be if he hadn't taught me how to draw a map of the world from memory in order to "get a date." Teachers are the most resilient people I know, and I think that's a wonderfully rare thing today. Please continue doing what you're doing and know how appreciated you are, because most of us don't have what it takes to stand in your shoes!
Renee Kelly (Manager, Public Relations) I want to thank my 5th grade teacher Ms. Lawson. She was a motivator, and a friend. She encouraged me to be myself no matter what and she pushed me to do better in class. Once I turned in homework and she gave it back and said I know you can do better than this, now go back and don't bring back that homework until you are 100% sure that it's A+ material. She never told me what was actually wrong, she said you can do better. Once I looked at the homework and thought about it, she was right. I had rushed through the homework the first time. After much thought I re-did my entire paper, my answers were well-thought out and accurate. It made me think that I always want to do my best and not rush through something just to say I'm done. She said, always remember what you turn in will be a reflection of you. Do you want people to see you as just a "C" or do you want to be seen as an "A+". From that day on I strived to be an A+!
Katie Burk (Graphic Designer) I was privileged to grow up learning various forms of art and music. Because of all my art teachers from preschool through college, I'm now able to make creativity part of my daily life here at NPR. Shout outs to all my teachers at Runnels, and the professors at the LSU School of Art.
Anna Christopher Bross (Director, Media Relations) Many of us in Mrs. Banks' first grade class traveled all the way through graduation together. I can picture Mrs. Banks, at Lewes Elementary (we were the Bees), helping us become better readers and writers, on that wide-spaced paper that looks like lines on a road. We'd spend the entire day with her, with breaks for the library, gym (ropes and scooters), art (houses could not resemble squares with triangle roofs!) and music (Suzuki violin...and the recorder). Public school teachers – full disclosure, my mom is one – do such big work, often on so very little. They make things stretch. They improvise, and get creative. They dip into their own pockets for supplies and extra books. Dozens of teachers inspired me and countless other kids with their ideas, enthusiasm, quirks and knowledge. Thank you, teachers, for all you do.
Kyle Anderson (Senior Manager, Public Relations) Thanks to Mrs. Joyce Sawelson, my 4th grade teacher at Henry H. Houston School in Philadelphia. She instilled in me a love of writing and an appreciation for books and literature. In her class, we explored other cultures and backgrounds, an experience I credit with helping me to understand and value diversity and differences.
Eric Larson (Communications Intern) My most influential teacher, by far, was Mrs. Marsh from my 7th grade English class at River View Middle School in Kaukauna, Wis. She was tough: as a class, we were drilled with reading assignments, consistently asked to write, and even — now this was especially terrifying to me at the time — asked to recite our poetry in front of the class (thirteen-year-old Eric was not accustomed to public speaking). After a while, though, I became comfortable with the class – I discovered that I really enjoyed it, actually. And the nerve-wrecking, yet ultimately shell-breaking assignments influenced my future decisions – not only on what to study in college, but what to shoot for career-wise, too.So thanks, Mrs. Marsh, for breaking my shyness and pushing me in the right direction – you'll always be my favorite!
Cara Philbin (Publicist) Big shout out to Mr. Griffith: my high school psychology teacher slash all around fantastic guy. "Mr. Griff" has this uncanny ability to pinpoint the individual curiosities of his students. He senses when to push, but is also keenly aware of those moments when kids just need to be set free. From his effortless ability to nourish every question, to an open-ended take on what constitutes class time, to his quick-witted, yet kind-hearted responses to "that kid," Mr. Griff truly understands how to deeply connect with high school kids.
Emily Hellewell (Manager, Communications) Over the years, so many of my teachers have been a great influence on me. Like Mrs. James and Mr. Gordon, who through their enthusiasm and wide knowledge of American English and American history, respectively, made me actually enjoy all the work they bogged me down with during my junior year and look forward to more learning in college. But who can really forget their kindergarten teacher? Mine was Mrs. Borden. Along with her assistant Miss. Bauer, she made that school year playful and full of learning. I still remember that in that classroom I felt unique and special. Years later, when I was in high school or maybe even college, I ran into Mrs. Borden at Wal-Mart in my hometown. And of course she remembered me.
George Gary (Communications Associate) I'd like to thank my kindergarten teacher Mrs. Wardanian for teaching me to always stay true to myself and to dare to be different.
Emerson Brown (Senior Publicist) School? I learned all of life's hard lessons skateboarding the oak-lined streets of downtown, Conway, SC. But maybe I did pick up a thing or two when escorted to yonder school house. Thanks, Kathleen McKracken (first grade), for making me write an anti-arson essay after your son and I cut down a tree and set it on fire. Thanks, Libby Saville (fourth grade), for making me write an anti-violence essay after the class bully stole my comic book and I fought him for it (I lost).Thanks, Roberta Lambson (seventh grade), for bringing me comics from the shop by your house before I could drive there myself. Thanks, Ruthie Warren (tenth grade) for calling me "Emersonian" and giving my name meaning — and for not snitching when you caught me lifting a copy of the school's student literary magazine from the teacher's lounge. Thanks for instilling me with an appreciation for the written word that's gotten me where I am today. I hope I done you proud.
Kathie Miller (Director, Creative Services and Branding) A natural-born nerd, I've adored many teachers. Thanks to all of them, with special gratitude to Sister Gemma, for teaching me sign language and the Charleston in the first grade; Miss Wolfe, for bringing PattyCakes the guinea pig into our classroom and teaching us both science and the care & feeding of animals; Miss White, for instilling me with a sense of responsibility; Mrs. Krill, for teaching about tolerance and understanding; Sister Rose, for teaching me math as well as the true meaning of respect; Mr. Vath, for fueling my natural curiosity and letting me know that it's OK to ask a lot of questions; and to Madame Fisher for teaching more than just French, she exposed me to a love of culture. I'm forever grateful to all the many wonderful teachers who've educated me as well as enriched my life.
Danielle Deabler (Director, Public Relations) Kindergarten teachers don't get much better than Mrs. Murphy at Montfort Academy. Thank you Mrs. Murphy for encouraging me to be curious, appreciate nature, and play nicely in the sandbox!
Richard Smith (Senior Manager, Events and Conferences) My high school English teacher Mr. Clough was something of a character. He swore all of the time. No subject was too crude or explicit for classroom discussion. He spent far too much time fantasizing about the Alfa Romeo he was going to buy when he retired and was rid of the "cretins and imbeciles" like me and my classmates. His nickname around school was Boris and I forget the crucial detail of why. Despite his unorthodox teaching style, no one else inspired me to read English Literature in the vast volumes I do now or think analytically and creatively like Mr. (Boris) Clough.
Emily Littleton (Director, Corporate Communications) Mrs. Gill, wherever you are, thank you. In elementary school you brought a fuzzy squirrel piggy bank into religion class, and reminded us that what spare change we had could help feed children our age at a local shelter. You gave our forgetful class tips to help us remember the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. (I can still see you walking two fingers across your outstretched hand, to remind us to "visit the sick," and miming tipping back a tall one so we'd remember to "give drink to the thirsty.") One day you brought a big bag of M&M's in and gave most of the people in the class one M&M, a few a bunch, and one person the whole bag – to help us understand the difference between the "haves" and the "have-nots" and the randomness that separates the two. I vividly remember practicing the Memorare with my mother, the night before I had to recite it in your class. Did you know that I've prayed that prayer during my hardest times, and it has brought me strength? My parents and family taught me the greatest and most lasting lessons about what it means to have a meaningful life. I'm thankful to you, Mrs. Gill, for the many tools you gave me to live one.