Education Opinion

Beyond a Favorite Teacher

By Stu Silberman — May 05, 2014 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The following post is from Jasmine Liu, who is a sophomore at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Lexington,
Kentucky. She and her partner recently took first place in the Public Forum Debate state competition.

You don’t just walk in a class on the first day and say, “I think this teacher is going to change my life.”

When I first met her, it was the beginning of my freshman year of high school, and I was navigating the halls by room number, making multiple passes
through the corridors, wondering if the digits increased or decreased as I walked to the back. I latched on to a group of people I had met earlier that
day, and together we stepped foot in the fourth ever class of my high school career.

I dropped my stuff down on a desk in the front row that seemed to have an inch or so taken out of one leg, leaving it in a hopelessly crooked state. The
wobbling as I wrote really didn’t help my anxiety. To be honest though, the teacher looked as nervous as the room of expressionless faces. She gave us a
run-down of what we should expect from her AP Human Geography class, and reassured us that we were all capable of receiving 1’s if we worked hard enough
(which just so happens to be the lowest score on the AP exam’s five point scale). A nauseous feeling welled up from the pit of my stomach, marking half
concern and half regret for signing up for the class.

It wasn’t until the second month of school that I could say that I had actually met Ms. Radun. By chance one day, my friends and I were talking during
class about possibly giving speech team a shot. This was despite my being- probably without exaggeration- the most timid person in the room, when she
happened to walk by and encouraged the three of us to come to auditions. From that day on, she took us under her wing, and I began to appreciate her as
more than just a one-dimensional teacher.

As my debate coach, Ms. Radun has taught me how to stand in front of people with my own ideas, to disagree, but most importantly how to do so with respect
(and correct information, of course). She took my old self, who was mistaken for mute on more than one occasion, and has shown me how to be self-confident.
She has comforted me in my worst defeats, with her admirable patience, to listen to my long rambles of the last debate round play-by-play, and stood proud
with my teammates and me in our victories. Ms. Radun without her trusty silver laptop is a rare sight, whether it’s editing our oftentimes-late debate
cases, or planning out our next class’s activities.

As my human geography teacher, she didn’t just show me how different the world is through language, religion, architecture and the rest of the standard
curriculum; rather, she took it a step beyond and taught me how to understand, ask questions and propose solutions. I can remember a particular assignment
where she assigned each of us a developing nation and requested that we write a ten-page paper on how we could improve the economic and social situations
in those nations. The first day we went to the computer lab to research and type up drafts, the whole class grumbled, but I can recall her walking around
to help us the days after and hearing several instances where students told her that it was actually really interesting to create these ideas so relevant
to today’s world.

In high school, it’s easy to categorize teachers into those who control classes with intimidation and those who gave up years ago. Ms. Radun, however, fits
into neither of these categories. I can’t remember a single instance where she had to raise her voice to get things done, and I don’t think that I’d be the
only one to say that we all held a certain amount of respect for the care she put into making sure that we were receiving the best education possible. Ms.
Katie Radun is beyond a favorite teacher or even a role model. She is an incredible educator and one of the most pleasant surprises I have encountered as a
high school student.

The opinions expressed in Public Engagement & Ed Reform are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Schools Get the Brunt of Latest COVID Wave in South Carolina
In the past few weeks, South Carolina has set records for COVID-19 hospitalizations and new cases have approached peak levels of last winter.
4 min read
Two Camden Elementary School students in masks listen as South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster talks about steps the school is taking to fight COVID-19, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021, in Camden, S.C. McMaster has adamantly and repeatedly come out against requiring masks in schools even as the average number of daily COVID-19 cases in the state has risen since early June. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)
Education More States Are Requiring Schools to Teach Native American History and Culture
Advocates say their efforts have gained some momentum with the nation’s reckoning over racial injustice since the killing of George Floyd.
3 min read
A dancer participates in an intertribal dance at Schemitzun on the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation in Mashantucket, Conn., Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021. Connecticut and a handful of other states have recently decided to mandate students be taught about Native American culture and history. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
Education Judge's Temporary Order Allows Iowa Schools to Mandate Masks
A federal judge ordered the state to immediately halt enforcement of a law that prevents school boards from ordering masks to be worn.
4 min read
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks to reporters following a news conference, Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, in West Des Moines, Iowa. Reynolds lashed out at President Joe Biden Thursday after he ordered his education secretary to explore possible legal action against states that have blocked school mask mandates and other public health measures meant to protect students against COVID-19. Reynolds, a Republican, has signed a bill into law that prohibits school officials from requiring masks, raising concerns as delta variant virus cases climb across the state and schools resume classes soon. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Education Hurricane Ida Deals New Blow to Louisiana Schools Struggling to Reopen
The opening of the school year offered teachers a chance to fully assess the pandemic's effects, only to have students forced out again.
8 min read
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021. Louisiana students, who were back in class after a year and a half of COVID-19 disruptions kept many of them at home, are now missing school again after Hurricane Ida. A quarter-million public school students statewide have no school to report to, though top educators are promising a return is, at most, weeks away, not months.
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021.
John Locher/AP