Mine isn’t a unique story. How many of us have been inspired by a special, caring, charismatic teacher?
In my case, the person I am today follows a clear line back to many teachers who inspired me, who shaped me, who helped me define and articulate who I am and what I believe. To name but a few: Mrs. Hogan at Slavens Elementary who instilled a passion for learning; Mr. Dunn in eighth grade cultivated my interest in science that carried through to Mr. Mackey’s Senior AP Physics; Mr. Remes set me on a lifetime path of studying the world, especially American history; and, among my many great English teachers, Mrs. Wasserstein helped me develop my ability to effectively put my ideas and thoughts in writing.
But from a long list of great teachers, one teacher stands out—my high school counselor, Kathy Smith. I graduated from Cherry Creek in 1979. My academic record was good, but certainly not stellar. Yet, Dr. Smith believed in me. She saw potential in me that I didn’t see in myself. She always seemed to be there for me when I needed someone most. It was with her help that I applied and was accepted to Northwestern, and it was with her help that I laid the foundation for the rest of my life. Looking back, I’m not sure I’d be where I am today without Dr. Smith’s belief in me.
While she and I shared a special bond, Dr. Smith certainly didn’t single me out. She served as a mentor, an advisor, and a friend to many students. She recognized that a student’s character or a young person’s capacity to accomplish great things is not necessarily represented by just grades or test scores. She encouraged hundreds of students every year – helped them find their dream and then realize it.
Thanks to Dr. Smith’s help and effort on my behalf, I attended Northwestern, got my bachelor’s degree and MBA, made a career, raised a family, and now am running for congress.
Dr. Smith retired last year after 16 years as the principal at Cherry Creek.
I just want to say thank you, Dr. Smith. Thank you to all the teachers who helped me become the man I am today. Thank you to all the teachers out there now who continue to inspire a new generation of thinkers and innovators.
I think each of us can point to teachers who inspired us. My wife, Julie, can, just like I can. My parents can. My sisters can. I want my sons, my nieces, and my nephews all to be able to.
Let’s not lose these stories. Let’s not give up on improving American education.
Let’s work even harder to guarantee that the next generation can still write this story.
Candidate for United States Congress - 10th District