Behind the lesson plan: what motivates a teacher to go above and beyond

Teachers have led countless students through years and years of school. They give students the tools to make it through school and, in the end, graduate college, which is worthy of recognition.

Lincoln Financial Media stations KIFM, KSON and FM94/9 has partnered with APU to develop the program Teachers Are Heroes. This program honors teachers throughout the San Diego County for their outstanding efforts to build relationships and teachers who care about their students through their teaching style.

Students send essay nominations in to the radio stations, and 12 teachers are recognized each year. With the help of the San Diego County Office of Education, the stations visit schools to honor the teachers who have been nominated.

Throughout students’ lives, they have had teachers of all sorts: good, bad, weird, confusing, boring, funny, passionate and even relatable. However, there is always at least one teacher who has taught not only the material of the class, but also taught life lessons. These teachers are the other half of relationships that a student will never forget.

Pre-calculus and calculus teacher at Gladstone High School of Covina Anna Kwak is one who has proved she truly cares for each and every one of her students. One way this math teacher cares for her students is by being strict with them. She does not let her students off easy.

“In class, I always ask my students to make explanations because then they actually have the knowledge of what they are doing,” Kwak said. “I try to make sure my students fully understand this.”

Because Kwak never had a teacher who tested her through the learning process, math came as a struggle for her. This math teacher expressed her desire to live vicariously through her students’ success in math since she struggled when she was a young student.

Aside from pushing her students to seek understanding, Kwak credits her faith for the love and care she has for her students. This high school math teacher sees her students as her children.

“It all comes down to believing in God. This side of me cares for my students and prays for them,” Kwak said. “It is what I do every morning.”

Kwak sees a difference when she consistently prays for them as opposed to not doing so.
Senior liberal studies major Tiffany Chang plans on being a teacher in the future. Although her perspective on teaching is different than Kwak’s, this current student still wants to have a large impact on her future students.

“It takes many different kinds of people in a community to raise a child, and I want to be a part of that community by being a teacher,” Chang said.

Children might need mentors to open up to because they might not have that at home. As a teacher, Chang desires to hear students’ stories so they know she genuinely cares about them.

“Students do not always have the best home environments whether it is relationships with family or friends,” Chang said. “This is why teachers and schools should be a safe zone for these students.”

Sophomore liberal studies major Kaila Long feels as though teachers do have a large impact on the lives of children and how they develop.

“I think teachers are important because they not only teach kids and help them learn, but they are also there to help with social and emotional development as well,” Long said.

Long said that her favorite teacher was her fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Gillyenhamer, because of her devotion to her students. Gillyenhamer always made sure each student was comfortable with understanding the material, according to Long.

“She loved to help out her kids no matter what,” Long said.

Long also plans on being a teacher in the future. As an aspiring teacher, Long said there is no other feeling like helping out a child.

“Knowing that I am helping the kids, seeing the look on their faces and just knowing I make a difference means the most,” Long said. “That will help me get through the tough times.”

Teachers have a huge impact on the lives of their students. The teachers being honored through the Teachers Are Heroes program all deserve the recognition because teachers have the power to change lives.