Giving Thanks for National Teachers’ Day

3 min read

| By Debra Kirby |

National Teachers’ Day, which is observed in the United States on the first Tuesday of the first full week in May, is a great time to reflect on all the ways teachers have enriched our lives. Engaged teachers go beyond teaching their students the subject matter related to their classes—they also teach such skills as critical thinking, communication, organization, teamwork, and—in some cases—act as role models in ways that benefit their students into adulthood.

I was very fortunate to have just such a teacher: Mrs. Erma Colding, the science teacher at Harms Elementary in Detroit. Her class was the favorite of many students, and not just because it was filled with plants and animals. She was kind, engaging, encouraging, passionate about learning, and made science fun! Most of this I recognized at the time, but it was many years before I realized she had also been a role model for grace, dignity, and courage. I kept in touch with Mrs. Colding throughout my life, but only learned after her death that she was also a civil rights activist and a recipient of the prestigious NAACP Freedom and Justice Award.

I’ll bet there are thousands of teachers doing interesting and important work unrelated to their teaching careers that might surprise their students. There are also plenty of people who started out as teachers but went on to do other interesting and important work. For example, did you know that the famous people listed here were once teachers?

You can learn more about their life and careers from Gale’s Biography In Context.

This National Teacher’s Day, I can’t tell Mrs. Colding how thankful I am for everything she taught me, but I can continue to try to live up to her example and express my appreciation to the teachers I know who share their passion for learning with their students every day.

About the Author

When Debra, a 30-year veteran of the publishing industry, is not working or reading, she can be found gardening, running, swimming, or pursuing the lifelong learning that is at the tip of her fingers via Gale databases.



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3 thoughts on “Giving Thanks for National Teachers’ Day”

  1. Yes Erma Colding is the best teacher I had in my life. I think I was in her first class at Harms. Went back to her class every time I came home on leave from the Air Force.

    Burney Williams (Bud)

    • Hi Bud,
      That’s pretty crazy that you shared the same teacher as our writer of this blog! Small world 🙂
      Seems as though you were impacted by her amazing teaching skills as well—so nice to know teachers make such a difference in students’ lives.

      -Tara Blair
      Digital Marketing Coordinator, Gale

  2. I was one of the last students to have Mrs. Colding before she retired. Had her from 97-99. She’s the reason I went on to study Biology at U of M in college. Her presence taught me that women could succeed in science. Mrs. Colding was everything. I only recently learned of her passing, unfortunately and promptly stumbled upon this article. Thank you for this.

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