Michaels: Teachers impact our lives more than we know

Michaels stands with her high school TV Production class taught by Richard Luttenberger. - Copy Editor / Sylent Lee Michaels

Teachers are some of the most important people on Earth. If not for teachers, then how would we gain knowledge on anything? It is imperative that we as students take moments to appreciate this. 

The people we learn from are our teachers of life — parents, elders, college students working in a daycare, bosses, siblings and professors all teach us lessons. But those who dedicate their career to educating students are the most prominent teachers a person will know from the age of 4 to 24. 

There are teachers that are there for a paycheck, teaching students the lesson plans with no regard to their development as a person other than an understanding of a subject. Then there are those teachers who teach life alongside the subject you need to know. The teachers who are real with their students grow bonds as they seek to help those they teach flourish into success. 

This is especially prevalent in college. I have had classes with professors who don’t bother to learn their students’ names and will barely respond to an email. Yet, on the flip side, I have had professors who actively engage with their students, pondering their passions and acknowledging them for being young adults working to make sense of the world. 

Those teachers, the ones who are personable and truly care, are the ones who leave a mark on our life. In light of this, I spoke to Nick Diulio, a journalism professor at Rowan who is appreciated by many students for this. 

“It’s not just my responsibility to get up in the front of the class and teach you guys stuff. It’s getting to know who you are as individuals, as learners, as people,” DiUlio said. “So much of what informs how I teach is the stuff I get from the relationships with my students.”

All my life, I have always had a deep appreciation for the teachers who did more than just teach me about the subject at hand. Those who take that extra step to ask about my day, and to care about my passions and well-being have helped shape me into who I am today — influencing my love for learning and teaching me valuable life lessons I hold dear to my heart. 

With this appreciation, I was able to form a bond with professor DiUlio, as well as a teacher I had in high school, Richard Luttenberger, for three years of TV Production and senior year English. I confided in him in all aspects of my life from school to seeking advice about relationships, problems and career advice. To this day, three years post-graduation, we remain in touch and I still seek his advice and wisdom. 

I realize that not all have experienced teachers in this manner, whether it be outside circumstances or that they don’t allow themselves to create a bond with a teacher. But I am sure if you think about it, you will find that there was at least one teacher who made a difference in your life — the one who made you a little more interested to learn something new. 

Now is the time to form those relationships, especially as college students. Take that extra step to learn from those who have experience in things we have yet to learn. Seek advice from those who are spending their lives sharing their knowledge with us so that we may prosper. You never know what may happen. You may gain a mentor, a friend and a lifelong bond like no other. 

For a teacher, making that difference in a student’s life is treasured as well. 

Richard Luttenberger has taught me so many valuable things in life. I have shared this with him and know that it is equally special to him, so I wanted to get his thoughts on the matter. 

“There’s no way to put into words what those relationships mean. I still communicate with kids whom I first had in class 10 years ago,” Luttenberger said. “It’s very heartwarming to know that others care so much and continue the relationships.” 

He shared moments he’s had with past students who have looked to him for advice when starting their careers, and the happiness he feels when he gets to speak with past students and see how far they’ve come. 

That being said, it comes as no surprise to learn that both of these influential teachers I spoke to shared that their own teachers helped shape the way they teach and treat their students. 

When professor DiUlio took this moment to ponder his teachers who had made a difference, he shared that they broke through to him by being exceptional and not for how they taught.

“The way they cared about me as an individual, the way they elevated my talents, but also pointed out where I could be better. Those were instrumental people to me… It’s weird thinking that I’m that,” DiUlio said. 

Teachers can influence a person’s life in such a tremendous way and not even know, and it’s important to share your appreciation for them. Knowing they have made a difference may influence them as well. 

After all, the real trophies in life are the relationships we form along the way.

For comments/questions about this story, email the.whit.rowan@gmail.com or tweet @TheWhitOnline