Talking About Great Teachers At SXSWedu : NPR Ed Education thinkers at South by Southwest gave us the details on the people who inspired them.

Talking About Great Teachers At SXSWedu

The NPR Ed Team is all about great teaching — so how could we attend the annual SXSW education conference and not ask folks to tell us about their favorite teachers?

Stories Of Great Teachers at SXSWedu

  • Jackie Bastardi, Instructor at Curious on Hudson

    Elissa Nadworny/NPR
    Jackie Bastardi is a 25-year-old instructor at Curious on Hudson, an enrichment program in upstate New York designed to expose kids to science, engineering and creativity in a fun, low-pressure atmosphere.
    Elissa Nadworny/NPR

    Bastardi is inspired by her high school physics teacher, Ms. Kelly, who gave her the confidence to major in mechanical engineering at one of the top schools in the country, Rochester Institute of Technology.

    "She was awesome at showing examples of these theoretical calculations. She was always launching stuff across the room." Bastardi, an instructor at Curious on Hudson, an enrichment program in upstate New York that exposes kids to science and engineering, now helps her students build their own catapults and rockets.

  • Anant Agarwal, CEO of edX

    Elissa Nadworny/NPR
    Anant Agarwal is the CEO of edX.
    Elissa Nadworny/NPR

    Agarwal's most inspirational teacher taught his high school math class in India. "He would yell and scream and curse students," says Agarwal, an electrical engineering and computer science professor at MIT. He is also the CEO of the Massive Open Online Course platform edX.

    For advanced students, the teacher gave out special problems and instructed them to go think. "He really helped me learn how to challenge students," Agarwal says.

    "He would make math come alive."

  • Zak Malamed, Founder of Student Voice

    Elissa Nadworny/NPR
    Zak Malamed is the 19-year-old founder of Student Voice.
    Elissa Nadworny/NPR

    Mr. Bua only taught Malamed one elective at his suburban New York middle school, but that didn't matter. "He was someone who was there to support me and my interests outside of the classroom," Malamed says. "He inspired me to be much more than just a student."

    Malamed remembers Bua staying after school and spending time working on a big social awareness project. "He helped me begin to find relevance and purpose in my learning experience."

    Malamed still keeps in touch with Bua, but if he had to write his teacher a note now, it would say: "Thank you, Mr. Bua. Your belief in me made me believe in myself."

We asked conference attendees to write us a note about their great teachers.

Tell us stories about the great teachers you've known, the ones you think ought to make our list. We'll read these stories over and pull some out to share.

Drop some thoughts in the comments below, find us on on Facebook or Twitter, use #50GreatTeachers on Twitter or send an email to