Teacher Appreciation

As part of the SMART Exemplary Educators program, they have an area called Gold Star SEE powered by Influitive.  This system is a means to share articles, post challenges/activities; basically a means of engagement within their program.  Since this week is teacher appreciation week, they posted a challenge today to think back on the teacher who influenced you the most and thank them by writing a blog post, they gave some guidance on your post: talk about when and where, what was the setting like, how did this teacher reach their students, what would it have been like if this teacher had access to SMART Solutions, etc.  Here is what I wrote.

   In 1998, I entered the 8th grade.  I was a student at Saint Williams in Philadelphia PA.  At that time, the school was kindergarten through eighth grade, with four classes for each grade level.

Entering the classroom for the first time, I was greeted by a short (now I was quite tall for my age, especially as an 8th grader) Irish nun with a huge smile.  Sister Irene Kervick was the kind of teacher any auditory learner would love.  She knew how to tell a story; keeping her audience on the edge of their seats.  She taught with humorous anecdotes and threw in jeopardy style facts to make her lessons more meaningful than what the text plainly described.  Did you know, every year about 98% of the atoms in your body are replaced; my teacher did!  When studying the building blocks of matter and people too, she shared that little fact with us.  She would have projected the parts of an atom for us to manipulate.

To image technology, like a SMART Board, in her classroom is interesting.  Depending on the placement of the board, the students would have been the ones operating it, just because of her height.  She would have had the ability to include visuals with her stories.  Her engaging style of teaching would have been complemented by the interaction she could have brought to Math, Science, Social Studies, Language Arts, Religion, etc.

   One of her best qualities as a teacher was how Sister Irene made it a point that everyone of her students felt important, special to her and heard; which in a classroom of 32 can be quite challenging.  I would like to think that I bring that into my teaching.  She had a knack for leaving you wanting to hear more.  School was fun.  I was excited to go to school each day and that’s because of Sister Irene.

After typing the post I went and did a search for Sister Irene.  Unfortunately she passed in July 2014.  When I was in high school, my sister had Sister Irene.  This did give me the opportunity to go back and see her then.  I was able to tell her how she was my favorite teacher, but never had the opportunity to show her the impact she made on my career now.

Sister Irene 1938-2014

Sister Irene 1938-2014

This may be cross posted on the Edcompass Blog and if it does I will link to it here.


  6 comments for “Teacher Appreciation

  1. Leeann
    January 30, 2017 at 10:38 pm

    I too was a student of Sister Irene or Sister Brian as we knew her at St. Agnes in West Chester, Pa. ,back in 1970. Eight grade was the best . We loved her and wished she could of followed us into high school.My friends and I kept in touch with her a while and then our lives moved on.
    This past weekend,my family went back to St. Agnes for. Open house. Boy did all the memories come back. I could see her in that room and it was like 8 th grade again. We walked to the next classroom and i started a conversation with a sister at the door. I told her about Sister Brian and how much she meant to me. She told she knew Sister Irene and pretty sure that she had taken her her given name back .Then she told me the news that Sister Brian had passed a few years ago. So as i sit her and tears roll down my face i wanted to write to tell her family she was the best teacher i ever had ! So i end this to say i will see her when my maker takes me too ! A student from St Agnes..Lee ann

    • Mr. G.
      February 1, 2017 at 7:49 am


      Thank you for sharing your memories. When I read, “I could see her in that room…” I could picture her in our classroom, trying to roll up the sleeves of her habit as she is getting into a tale (her method of teaching social studies, through stories). I’m glad you found this post!

  2. Maureen Kervick Andersen
    January 25, 2016 at 9:42 pm

    Thank you for your beautiful tribute to my sister, Sister Irene! We are a family of educators and I miss her every day! She would always have words of advice for me and I know she loved her students! Your story touched my heart today and I am so glad I stumbled upon it!! Thank you again for the happy tears today!

    • Mr. G.
      January 26, 2016 at 8:31 am


      I’m glad my thoughts and words found you. Sister Irene is my favorite teacher/mentor. I attribute part of the reason I pursued a career in education to Sister Irene’s example and influence.

  3. linda Curley
    January 25, 2016 at 8:00 pm

    Thank you for this post. Sister Irene was my aunt and mentor. I have been a public school math teacher for close to 28 years. Aunt Irene and I always talked school. She emphasized the kids need to move and encouraged me to get the kids to the board to show their math. I still do. Aunt Irene would NEVER be able to reach the top of my SMART board. She WAS short. I have no doubt, she knew your appreciation for her. She knew these things. I sure you have acquired skills from her that make you as effective as her. Thank you for your story.

    • Mr. G.
      January 26, 2016 at 8:28 am


      Thank you for reaching out to my post. I would go back and visit Sister Irene while attending HS & the first couple of years into college. She made sure to get to know all of her students, their interests, and their fears. Her focus was on the whole child and her lessons weren’t just meeting standards but educating for life.

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