What it Means to Be a Teacher Like You

This post originally appeared on A Teacher Like You.

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One year. 37 states. More than 200 teachers. Thousands of students -- and countless inspiring voices.

It's been one year since the start of A Teacher Like You -- and since those first days, we've met more life-changing people than could possibly be named. Educators from across the country shared their teaching journeys with us, and no two were the same. Whether they grew up playing school with their friends or made a leap of faith into teaching later in life, all of our teachers had one thing in common: their unwavering passion for their students has shaped the lives of many.

Being a teacher today takes dedication. It takes compassion. And it takes bravery. Yet as the education system is confronted with limited resources, evolving standards and increased politics, teachers are the ones most impacted by these changes. They're the ones molding our youth, showing them not only how to be successful students, but also how to be good people. They're the ones who know the challenges and rewards of being in our country's classrooms -- and their voices need to be heard.

As we wrap up this school year and head into the summer -- where we know our teachers are still working hard to prepare for the fall -- we're excited to take a step back and find new ways to connect these stories with the world. But before our break, we wanted to take a step back to highlight what our incredible community of educators had to say about what it means to be A Teacher Like You.

"I've read before that people who can't do, teach. It's the opposite. People who can do and care enough, teach. You teach because you care enough to pass on something to another generation."

- Darla Miller | 3rd grade | Philadelphia, MS

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"I want to be a change agent, and create a new narrative for my students which says that they can and will be who they want to be. I ask, 'What are your wildest dreams?' And that's where we start, right?"

- Tanesha Dixon | Middle school history | Washington, D.C.

"Teaching is not always academics. Not here, in Oakland, with the kids we serve and the community we work in. It's life. It's the choices that we make as teachers that affect every single part of how these young people develop and who they become."

- Sabrina Moore | 6th grade language arts | Oakland, CA

"I had one teacher, Mrs. Harris, who did notice me. I wish I could say that she did something more magical than that, but that was the magic: she saw me, spoke with me and followed up with me. That was it. There's no Hallmark moment; she just noticed me and it made all the difference. That's what great teachers do."

- Ellie Gilbert | High school | Portland, OR

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"You don't get into teaching for the glory. I don't drive my Ferrari to school and then peel out after the bus to go home and swim in my pool of money. We're here to glorify our students, to show the work that they've done and how much better they are than they were yesterday. We elevate our kids and put them out there so everyone else can cheer on what they do."

- Justin Aion | High school science | Pittsburgh, PA

"We get so caught up in testing that we're forgetting to nurture kids. We forget that school isn't just a place to learn, but a place to grow and become a person. That person in charge of that classroom, who kids are looking up to, needs to be a nurturer and a caregiver, a counselor and a relationship guru. This person is everything to these kids, because they may never have had someone like that in their lives."

- Robin Rivers | 8th grade English / language arts | Mobile, AL

"Education in general is kind of low on the totem pole in terms of what's important--and it's so odd, because teachers are building tomorrow. I don't really know how to fix it. People say that you get your reward in heaven. It's not something you're doing for other people, so they look at you and say, 'Good job.' You're doing it because it's important."

- Jorge Cuascut | 2nd grade | Chicago, IL

Keep in touch on Instagram @ateacherlikeyou or via email at ateacherlikeyou@gmail.com - we're excited to hear what you're up to this coming year!