Happy Teacher Appreciation Day from ATPE! To celebrate the great teachers across this state, we asked ATPE staff members to share memories of their favorite teachers.
My mother was (and continues to be) my favorite teacher. Jolly Ann Maddox (Schlitzkus) had high expectations for all of us at my small, rural, South Texas school. She believed that every one of the nearly 100 students in my 1A high school could compete with students attending better-funded, better-resourced schools. To that end, she taught us to write and to think critically. She always said, "If you can write, you can do anything." There was backlash when she assigned controversial books like The Catcher in the Rye, but she never backed down. My mother embodied the notion that knowledge is power, and she empowered every student that spent time in her classroom.
—Jean Schlitzkus, video producer
My favorite teacher was Mr. John “Pete” Kunkel, the band director for the Big Green Marching Machine at Longview High School. (Go Lobos!) Mr. Kunkel certainly did a stellar job of teaching us about music, but maybe more important, he taught us about discipline, teamwork, and persistence. (And the importance of good posture!) His influence will stay with me for a lifetime!
—Elaine Acker, marketing and communications director
My favorite teacher was Ms. Nova Barkley. She was my senior English teacher. She taught me the value and importance of being able to communicate in writing. I credit her influence and direction as being among the most important factors in any professional success I have enjoyed in my 40-year professional career.
—Gary Godsey, executive director
Her name was Mrs. Mildred Bowden. She was my fifth-grade teacher. I was the new kid at school in the middle of the year in a small town. Most of the other kids had grown up there, so I was really feeling lonely and left out. Mrs. Bowden took me under her wing and made me feel very welcome. She was a mentor of mine all through school. We remained friends even after I finished school. She made such an impact on my life.
—Liz Monaghan, HR director
Growing up in a small, six-man football school, with around 200 kids K-12 (maybe), means that you have some of the same teachers multiple years. It’s hard to choose one because they were all great and really cared for all of us kids in the community. I’ll highlight a couple.
Mrs. Cynthia Stroman (Highland ISD, Roscoe, TX) was our high school English teacher. Mrs. Stroman was tiny in size but held us to a very high standard and pushed us to perform to our best ability. She never tolerated any slacking or poor behaviors. I’m thankful for her because having Mrs. Stroman in high school made college level English a complete breeze!
Mrs. Mary Bankhead (Highland ISD, Roscoe, TX) was our math teacher for years. Her patience and care helped us to excel. She also taught in a way that we could understand, breaking it down chunk by chunk at our level. You could always ask questions, and she always made the time to help you on an individual level. Her patience with us was unmatched! Now when I go home to see family, I sit across from her in Sunday school.
—Kelly Riney, membership field supervisor
My favorite teacher was U.D. Adams, my high school agricultural science teacher. He was always encouraging and supportive. Mr. Adams was strict and had high expectations, but through his caring nature and sense of humor, he had the ability to draw maximum effort from his students and truly earned our respect.
—Joy England, membership director
My favorite high school teacher was Ms. Anderson. She was my AP English 4 teacher. She gave me a love for writing. My favorite professor was my mentor, Dr. Marla Banks. She introduced me to the world of education. She gave me a love for learning and teaching. She introduced ATPE to us at McMurry back in 1994-95, and that is when I became part of the ATPE family.
—Cynthia Villalovos, regional membership specialist for Regions 3 and 4
My favorite teacher was Durwood Howard—the Temple High School varsity band director. That was a long time ago, but he had very high standards for everything that had the band’s name associated with it. Back in the day, we marched pageantry style with 10 busloads of band and drill team members. It was quite the statement to manage all of us and get us ready to perform for a Dallas Cowboys game on Thanksgiving Day every year! All that took discipline, guidance, direction, and supervision. He was an outstanding model of all those things for all of us.
—Mary Jane Waits, regional membership specialist for Regions 12, 14, and 15
My favorite teacher was my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Ana Torres at Reynaldo G. Garza Elementary School in McAllen ISD. She wildly jumped up and down when I read my first sentence to her. I can picture that moment vividly. Her enthusiasm and support helped to encourage me long after I left her classroom.
—Sylvia Martinez-Haley, attorney
My favorite teacher was my history/government teacher at Lon Morris College. Dr. Burton taught by telling stories. That is when I began to understand what history and government was all about. To this day, I still remember so much of what he taught me, even though it was 40 years ago!
—Ginger Franks, regional membership specialist for Regions 5-7
To hear even more stories of our favorite teachers, check out ATPE’s Teacher Appreciation Day video!
Thank you, Texas teachers! ATPE is proud to serve you!
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