Five Teachers That Have Inspired BCS Staff

As Teacher Appreciation Week comes to a close, we at BCS wanted to take a moment to celebrate some of the influential teachers in our lives. Teachers have a tough job, but their influence on us is often felt far into the future. Read on to see which teachers have inspired these five BCS employees, and consider thanking the teachers in your life this week!

  1. Bob Ward, Wheaton North High School, Wheaton, Illinois

    BCS Research Analyst Stephanie Kovanda Layman: Ever heard of a little musical called Hamilton? Well, my AP U.S. History teacher Mr. Ward made up the very first historical rap I had ever heard featuring Alexander Hamilton and one of his many political adversaries, Thomas Jefferson. While he was no Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mr. Ward had an incredible talent for instilling in his students passion for and critical thinking of American history, all while making the subject matter so entertaining we did not realize just how much information we were absorbing. To this day, thanks to Mr. Ward, I still have a random understanding of John C. Calhoun’s bleak influence on American history and appreciation for his incredible hair. More importantly, of course, I learned from Mr. Ward just how important it is to look back with a critical lens as we consider the present and future.

  2. Jenny Penniman, Howard Community College, Columbia, Maryland

    BCS Senior Manager Liz Penniman: Not to be corny, but my mom has been the most inspirational teacher in my life. I’ve never met a teacher, or really even a human, who is (a) so passionate about math and (b) so passionate about getting others to like and understand math. While I chose a profession as far from the subject as possible, I credit her with my ability to be right and left brained (to an extent), as well as with my desire to follow my passions in life. And, I’m going to brag about my mom for a second… She has 5 out of 5 stars on!

  3. Phyllis “Flip” Knutson, La Cueva High School, Albuquerque, New Mexico

    BCS Manager Lindsay Bixby Southerland: Mrs. Knutson is the teacher who had the biggest impact on my life—it’s not a coincidence that I had her for geography, U.S. History, and then as a teaching assistant in high school. What is most notable about her is that she really inspired students to live up to their potential and treated everyone with great kindness. Even though we only made it up to World War II in the history class, she taught in such a way that made students want to learn more during the summer. That is a feat in and of itself! I am grateful for all I learned in her classroom and about how important it is to be respectful to others no matter the circumstance. Thank you, Mrs. Knutson!

  4. Dr. Kathleen Anderson, Palm Beach Atlantic University, West Palm Beach, Florida

    BCS Communications Specialist Kelsey Satalino: I credit Dr. Anderson with really teaching me how to write and think critically. While I technically knew how to write before stepping into her classroom my sophomore year of college, she had such high standards for writing, researching responsibly, and crafting critical arguments that I feel like my writing was completely transformed. Dr. Anderson also incorporated fun interactive learning activities into her lesson plans; to this day, I have fond memories of running around her Victorian Literature classroom, screaming as we acted out a scene from Great Expectations (I was Miss Havisham). Over the years, I took several English classes with Dr. Anderson, and she pushed me to work on my writing outside of class and provided countless hours of guidance as I tried to figure out my career aspirations. She was a hugely influential person in my life.

  5. Dr. William Watson, Colorado Christian University, Lakewood, Colorado

    BCS Lead Technical Research Analyst Garrett Shields: The teacher that had the largest impact on my education was Dr. William Watson, Professor of History at Colorado Christian University. He had a contagious enthusiasm for history that involved pacing, jumping, and energetically swinging his legs while sitting on a table at the front of the classroom. You couldn’t help but pay attention to what he was saying. Dr. Watson also would engage in, and even encouraged, lively debates with students. He perfectly displayed how to disagree with someone’s opinion without disparaging them or losing any respect for them as a person or for their intellect. Because of Dr. Watson, there are far more lovers of history and kind-yet-critical thinkers in the world.


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