Teacher Appreciation Week: Realizing Personal Potential With Phyllis Speicher

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May 10th, 2014

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In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, Kevin Jenkins, a member of our Product team, shares a personal story of teachers from his past; ones who taught him to imagine the possibilities.

teacher-appreciation-weekStarting at Edmodo was unlike any job experience I’d ever had. All of a sudden, I felt this surge of nostalgia and appreciation for all the amazing teachers I’ve had throughout the years. They bring a smile to my face as I write this. And they did so much more.

Mr. Conard encouraged my love of science in high school, always walking just fast enough so that his lab coat trailed like a cape in flight. To me, he was a bit of a magician, conjuring potions out of a few elements and capturing the attention of 25 teenagers. That’s pretty magical.

In Mr. Holcomb’s class, you could close your eyes and imagine a Civil War battle as he told of battalion movements and the conflicted personalities of the generals and politicians who led them. You felt like you were there because you almost believed that Mr. Holcomb had been at the battle himself, he was so deft with the material. His stories weren’t the simple narratives I had in other courses, but instead delved into the complexity and context of an unfolding history. I left Mr. Holcomb’s U.S. history class with new tools to understand the modern world.

Mr. Conard and Mr. Holcomb didn’t just teach their classes. They somehow matured us, treating us as adults capable of intellectual challenges. Two incredible teachers of many I was fortunate enough to have in my life.

Yet there’s one teacher who I think of most of all—Phyllis Speicher. Ms. Speicher taught 7th grade biology. One day, I got a note from her on the top of a test that I hadn’t done particularly well on. “Kevin, I expect more of you, you’re not meeting your potential.”

I can’t count the number of  times I’ve thought of Ms. Speicher and that little note. She saw something in me that I didn’t and challenged me to live up to it. Even then, it took me years to appreciate what she said. I did okay in high school, but it wasn’t until college that I started seizing the many opportunities before me. It started with Ms. Speicher’s spark.

Years later, I’m thrilled to work at a place with a mission to help all learners reach their full potential. A very heartfelt thank you to all the teachers who helped me get here.

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