Celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week
Whether you’re nine or ninety, in elementary school or a college grad, you can likely think of at least one teacher who made an impact on your life. From small gestures that make a student feel seen, to a push to try something new that ultimately influences your career journey, teachers make a difference in the lives of students. To recognize Teacher Appreciation Week, we spoke with several of our business leaders across Cengage Academic, Cengage Work and Cengage Select and asked them to tell us about teachers who influenced their lives and how they feel they can support teachers and students with education technology.
Who was your most memorable teacher and what subject did they teach? What made them special and how do you feel they have impacted your life?
“It’s hard to pick just one! I wrote a whole high school commencement speech about how distinct and impactful my teachers had been. A theme among them is those who challenged me to go beyond my first try and who told me I could do better. They challenged me to rise to the occasion and saw that I had more to give than I realized.
The first of these was Ms. Collins, my sixth-grade math teacher who gave us Challenges of the Week that stretched my brain beyond the simpler algebra we were doing in class. We weren’t always supposed to get them, but we were supposed to put in the effort and show the work. I hated that I couldn’t figure it out and thought I wasn’t good at math anymore. She challenged me, made me work and knew I could stretch further.
This happened to me a few more times in my life—a teacher rated my original effort ‘eh’ and pushed me to rise to the occasion. Being challenged like this made me believe in my own capabilities and raise my own standards. It also made me realize that sometimes the first effort is not good enough! Editing, feedback and iterative thinking do make things better.”
– Rya Conrad-Bradshaw
“I’ll never forget Bill Scarlata, my ninth-grade trigonometry teacher. Mr. Scarlata helped to anchor my appreciation for math, which was a cornerstone for that part of my education. He also made me feel especially welcome in the class because I was a couple of years younger than everyone else. He also never hesitated to toss a marker at me when I drifted off!”
– Bob Batten
“Professor Fred Wagner taught 19th and 20th Century American literature. His instruction made the content so relevant that I changed my major from Economics to English Literature. Professor Wagner taught small seminars, so you absolutely had to do the reading, or it would be obvious in the discussion. More importantly, his heavy use of, and close critique of, written essays made me a better writer. This skill has served me well throughout my career.”
– Paul Gazzolo
“I had so many impactful teachers. The first one that pops into my head is Mr. Michael Fox, my English teacher at Hollis Brookline High School. Not only was he my teacher, but he went on to teach three of my children. He was always teaching: in the classroom, in the hallways and at school sporting events. In the classroom, it was about his passion for English, American literature and all things related. Outside of the classroom it was about the school spirit, the community and the character of the children. He took every opportunity to reinforce the development of high-quality character.”
– Jim Chilton
“Dr. Sandra Herndon was the Chair of the Graduate Program in Communications at Ithaca College. She took a personal interest in the lives of her students. She was very supportive of my ambition and always made sure I was doing well in school and in my personal life.”
– Edwin Robles
“In my sophomore year of high school, I was given Miss Louise Mayo for English. She had the reputation of being the toughest teacher in the school – that terrified me. I appealed to my parents to move me to another teacher. That teacher was very popular but did not challenge me at all. How surprised was I when I was assigned to Miss Mayo the very next year, my junior year of high school! Learning came very easy to me, and I took it for granted. Miss Mayo pushed me beyond my comfort zone to do more than what was easy, to do more than just enough, which was at that time better than most. She taught me to not compare myself to others, but to judge myself against my own ability and that still drives me today.”
– Sandra Bruce
Tell us about a teacher you had, or someone you know, who inspired you to do the work you do at Cengage Group.
“In business school, I took system dynamics with John Sterman and Nelson Repenning at MIT. It is an extraordinary method to map complex systems, understand the drivers, internal and external forces, and how they interact and impact each other. As I started working in education and workforce development, this training was so helpful to begin to understand how it’s designed to deliver outcomes—and where it breaks down. For a long time, my focus has been on fixing the broken job market, and seeing the complex system we operate in really helps to understand where to begin to put pressure on the system—to create more pathways and more opportunities.”
“I find inspiration from those teachers who are also coaches within their schools. The individuals that serve as teachers and coaches are so dedicated to helping young people develop and flourish as well-rounded people beyond academics. Being part of sports teams were formative experiences for me because those experiences seeded the soft skills that matter once out of school.”
“In my life, I have benefited from the guidance of traditional teachers, but also enjoy learning everything I can from my colleagues in education technology. For example, Alexander Broich challenges me with stretch goals and establishes ‘guard rails,’ while providing latitude to explore new strategies and make decisions. Every member of the Gale Leadership Team is an expert at their respective jobs, so I continue to learn from them as well.”
“Annie-Marie Costa and Ron Ferullo, my mother- and father-in-law, were both teachers and my mother-in-law went on to be a principal and deputy superintendent of Revere, MA schools. They both inspire me and exemplify how helping others learn is a natural gift. I think that they, and the other memorable teachers that I have had, have a unique ability to share information while also conveying knowledge in an engaging way. This is what separates them from others and makes them great teachers.”
“I am grateful for the people I get to work with every day (past and present). I learn from the teams I lead, my colleagues, those I reported to and their bosses as well. My inspiration comes from being surrounded by smart and talented people both at work and in my personal life.”
“I had the privilege of representing Cengage Group as Milady delivered the first ever formal teacher training program to aspiring vocational instructors in Panama. They were not only beauty educators, but vocational instructors for all trades. They shared unimaginable personal stories of survival from atrocities at the hands of the Noriega regime and tears poured from their eyes as they shared their pride in receiving their certificates of completion as Master Educators. The power education has on their lives and the future lives they will impact was palpable. This was the single best day of my career and one of the best birthdays I’ve ever had!”
More than three quarters of US states are experiencing teacher shortages, exacerbated by the burnout many teachers experienced during the pandemic and beyond. What do you think edtech providers like Cengage Group can do to support teachers?
“We are currently exploring how we can help K12 districts recruit and hire paraprofessionals who can be on track to become teachers. We know now more than ever we need additional talent entering the classroom. We need to increase pathways and opportunities for people who want to enter the classroom but might have barriers to getting there and we think something like Ready to Hire might be applicable there as well as in the healthcare and cybersecurity sectors.”
“Teachers bring an incredible personal touch to the lives of students, and I think edtech providers like Cengage Group need to provide products and services that enable more of that personal touch. Some edtech providers have mistakenly sought to replace the teacher, and I think gearing our products and services to enabling those teachers is the right approach. Whatever we can do to help teachers expand their ability to serve students one at a time is a huge win for everyone. Whether it’s taking administrative burden off the teacher with tools like MindTap or providing online programs for under-resourced continuing education departments like ed2go does, it’s all about allowing our partners to do more with a student.”
“Teacher burn-out and the resulting shortages is a problem that Gale is trying to help solve. Gale In Context: For Educators is our first product specifically targeting teachers. This product makes it easy to use library content to teach a wide variety of subjects, especially when a textbook requires supplementation. Our goal is to condense hours of lesson planning into minutes while giving learners equitable access to high quality content.”
“We need to recognize the impact teachers have on students not just within a semester but in life. Teachers encourage and create great outcomes and this was recently demonstrated at The Oscars and The Grammy Awards when winners took the time to recognize the teachers who made a difference in their lives. If we want to continue to have amazing teachers, we need to ensure compensation is appropriate for the contribution they are making but we also need to recognize and reward them for their efforts and outcomes. We will only see a difference when those in leadership collectively focus on this problem and begin to address it.”
“Our mission in US Higher Ed and Canada is to provide our customers with affordable, high-quality learning solutions that are easy to use. If we can deliver on that mission, our customers will have more time to do the things they love.”
“Teachers are expected to be everything: subject matter experts, counselors, coaches and facilitators. They curate the content, write the curriculum, draft and grade the exams and create the presentation decks. They give and rarely get. The more edtech providers can do to provide full-service, off the shelf resources so that teachers can spend their time teaching and remediating instead of administering tasks, the more joy we can re-introduce into their lives. Technology can reduce the lift of lesson planning, grading, record keeping and can instead support a teacher’s real passion, which is to drive learning and excellence, just like Miss Mayo did with me.
If you’re like us, and you’re inspired by teachers and educators, consider working at Cengage Group where we have jobs that make a difference. We provide challenging careers, competitive benefits, a strong technology focus and a great team of co-workers and customers.
To learn more and apply for an open role, visit the careers section of our website.