We have entered the month of June, which means another school year is coming to a close. Usually, the focus this time of year is on the joy students feel as they clean out their lockers and stampede out of schoolhouses like a herd of bison, eager to begin their summers. And while that is all well and good, we would like to tip our caps to those hard-working folks who make sure those students exit the classrooms with their heads full and their futures bright: the teachers.
We asked residents of Duke Cannon country for their thoughts on the educators who made a positive impact in their lives, and here is what we heard (a sincere thanks to everyone who replied).

Dave Hietpas was my Art teacher at St. Catherine’s High School in Racine, WI. He was a chill dude who had an exceptional beard to go with his impressive collection of 70’s era silk shirts—the best of which featured the Mona Lisa. He would play David Bowie, Pink Floyd, and Supertramp while we toiled away with charcoal. And as if to show that he could do more than just draw, he wrote a college recommendation letter for me.
-Mark Fairbanks

I grew up in a family of educators, from my mom and dad to all my aunts and half my uncles are all teachers in Iowa. To say the least, they all impacted me in a major way.
-Jack Bowman

Educators are magic. I feel honored to work so closely with so many of them as I’m an academic college librarian. I’m not sure if I could choose just one for their impact in my life, but I will. I had an English teacher who was just like Robin Williams’ character in Dead Poets Society. I think I could credit him for why I became a librarian, quite honestly. I’ll say it again: educators are magic.
-Whitney H

I have taught middle school for years, there were several great educators who influenced me to join the profession.
-Bobby McCulley

My freshman through senior year of high school (Coventry High School, Connecticut), I consistently had classes taught by Gabriel Kendall. His teaching style of stories, engaging talks, and the obvious care he had for his students truly helped me with my interest in history and civics. Some of my favorite times in high school are because of him. Years after I graduated, he saw me and said I had a great beard, so that certainly adds to it!
-Jake Michaels

I had an 8th grade history teacher named Robert Leach. He served as an Army Ranger in the late '80’s/early '90’s, and still serves as an honor guard. He helped me fall in love with American history. I remember being one of only two students to get 100% on his final exam, and they even mentioned it over the school intercom.
Mr. Leach is retired but still serves as an honor guard at funerals. He even helped bury my Grandpa, a Marine who served in Vietnam, as well as my wife’s uncle, who fought in Vietnam as well. He also works with our historical and genealogy societies, and is creating a museum that will tell the story of each person killed in action from WW1 to present day in service of our country. The guy is a hero.
-Mike Dray