A special “Vielen Dank” to my favorite teacher

via Wikimedia Commons

via Wikimedia Commons

By Charline Maher, Marketing Communications Manager, Corwin

Everyone has a favorite teacher. Ask someone about it, and most likely they’ll be able to tell you stories of a teacher who changed their life, inspired them to pursue a certain career, or just made them enjoy school more.

In my case, my favorite teacher was Ms. Judy Graunke, who taught high school German. “Frau,” as she was called by all her students, had taught at my high school since the 1970s. She was “old school,” not only in the way she dressed, but also in the way she shunned email and computers in general. Her worksheets and tests were typed on a typewriter. She still has a carbon copier in her classroom.

Frau had a singular dedication to her students that saw her in her classroom from 6:30am until 5:00pm or later. She had a sharp wit and a keen sense of humor, but she also had high expectations that demanded our best.

My classmates and I still remember the past tense verb conjugations that she made us memorize.

She would hold up a flashcard. “Gehen!” she would say.

“Ging, gegangen,” we’d reply in unison.


Lief, gelaufen.

And so on.

She made us drill from flash cards, and on the day of the test, she called each one of us one by one up to the front of the classroom and whipped through all 45 cards. You had 60 seconds to make it through all of them, so if you got stuck and couldn’t shout out the past tense immediately, you had to sit down and try again tomorrow. She did this every day until every single student passed. To her credit and our immense surprise, every student, even the ones we all knew to be “slackers,” passed within 5 tries.

She wasn’t kidding when she said we would remember those verb conjugations until the day we died. Even now, my inclination when someone says “bieten” is to shout “bot, geboten!

Frau still teaches at my high school. I think one of the reasons why I work at Corwin is because she made me see how much impact a teacher can make on students, and I wanted to be a part of that in some way.

So in celebration of National Teacher’s Day, I say, “Vielen Dank, Frau.”

Which teacher made a difference in your life? Leave us a comment and celebrate National Teachers Day with us.


Corwin was established in 1990 as an affiliate of SAGE in Thousand Oaks, California, to provide solutions for PreK–12 educators. Corwin Press books range from very practical, experience-based resources to more reflective or research-based books, and are written for a diverse set of professionals—school principals, administrators, specialists, teachers, counselors, consultants, teacher educators, and collegiate-level students. www.corwinpress.com.



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