It Takes Only One Good Teacher

Highest dropout rates.

Lowest amount of money spent per student.

Persistently understaffed.

This is how Nevada’s education system is known both at home and across the country. Year after year, Nevada ranks last or at the bottom of every list measuring the quality of public education. But despite these obstacles and challenges, we have quality teachers who do not give up on their students. And as studies have shown, one of thebiggest indicators of student success is having inspiring teachers.

As back to school season begins across the state, teachers are getting ready for new classes and lessons, trying to fulfill several roles: teaching their students a particular subject while so affecting their lives for the better. Teachers often become mentors; they help students believe in themselves and figure out what they want to be “when they grow up.” While most teachers make a positive impact, most of us recall a specific teacher who greatly influenced us and changed our way of thinking or our point of view.

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For example, take State Senator Ruben Kihuen. He credits his high school government teacher Mr. Gorsline as one of the most influential people in his life. Mr. Gorsline encouraged Ruben and his classmates to volunteer for a political campaign by offering them extra credit. Ruben signed up for Harry Reid’s re-election campaign in 1998, the soccer champ never once thinking he would develop an interest in politics. Little did he know that volunteering then would inspire Ruben to run for election himself one day. Mr. Gorsline and Ruben still keep in touch – in fact, Mr. Gorsline spoke at one of Ruben’s first campaign rallies in 2006 when he was running for State Assembly.

For me, that influential teacher was Mr. Armstrong, who also taught high school government. But Mr. Armstrong didn’t just teach us the fundamentals of our country’s government; his engaging style and passion for his subject developed my interest in politics and drove me to pursue a degree in political science. Today, I work at one of Nevada’s best political consulting firms.

The truth is many Nevada students have stories about an influential teacher who, either subtly or blatantly, pushed us down the path to success. We often don’t show our appreciation for teachers enough, for the years they devote to making an impact in their students’ lives. Hats off to those teachers who have contributed to the success of their students even in a state where in nearly every metric we’re failing – sometimes, it takes only one good teacher to make a difference.