A Lasting Impact: Remembering a Great Teacher

Nikki PiercyBlog, Connect Better, Engage Better


  • There are teachers in our lives that have had a powerful influence on who we are.
  • Take the time to reach out to them, and let them know it.
  • You never know where their impact will end or where yours is going.

For fifteen years, I have been a teacher. It is difficult to believe that much time has passed. When I decided to become a teacher, I had in my mind what that would look like. Like most people, I had positive and negative experiences throughout my education. Their impact shaped who I am. I knew who I wanted to be and who I did not.

There was one teacher in particular who stood out to me the most. I remembered more things from her classroom than any other teacher I had. I always thought of reaching out to her, but I wasn’t sure how and did not put in the effort. Earlier this year, I read her obituary in the paper. It deeply saddened me. She had lived a long and full life. But I had missed my opportunity to tell her thank you.  I know it is too late, but maybe she can still see this letter where she is now. Or maybe another person will realize that if they want to reach out to someone to show their appreciation, there is no better time than this moment.

If you want to reach out to someone to show your appreciation, there is no better time than this moment. Click To Tweet

Dear Mrs. Sams,

It has been many years since I was in your classroom, but your classroom impacted me so powerfully. You were so passionate about teaching and always made learning interesting. I had many firsts while I was in your room. It was the first time I was ever in a play. You held two plays that year, “A Gift for Hans Brinker” and “Free to Be You and Me.” In addition, you gave me leading roles. I was relatively shy as a child and am still pretty introverted. However, I loved to act. You saw that spark in me and gave me the chance to realize that I could do it. I remember feeling so special and important that you chose me.

I tried artichokes for the first time. What a fun random thing to do with your students! I learned about praying mantes. Remember when they hatched over the weekend, and we came back to baby praying mantes all over the classroom? It was kind of gross but still really cool. I had a pet mealworm. I had been absent, so I got to take mine home for a bit. Now, I’m not exactly a bug person, but that year, I thought mealworms were really cute. We got to be inventors. We had an invention fair, and I made a light-up leash. You told me it was really good, and I should get it patented. It made me feel like a million dollars. We made commercials to learn about persuasive language and adjectives. Even boring old grammar was fun.

My favorite memory of all is the tomato seeds from outer space. You told us you ordered them from a catalog, and we each got one. We planted them and journaled about them. I made my parents plant it in a separate part of the garden when I brought it home. I was afraid it would be dangerous. To this day, I do not know if you told us that to get us excited or if it was true. I tell that story to my students all the time, and we laugh about it together. You made everything fun. I was grateful then. But I am even more grateful now because I can take what I learned from the wonderful way you taught and pass it on to my students.

Thank you, Mrs. Sams, for everything!

Your former student,

Nikki Piercy

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The Lasting Impact

I may not be able to ever deliver that message to Mrs. Sams, but I can take what she gave me and use it to be that kind of teacher for my students. A teacher who is loving and kind. A teacher who notices quiet, insecure students and builds confidence in them. Someone who is passionate about learning and finds ways to make it engaging.

I did have a student write to me a few years ago when she was getting ready to graduate high school. She thanked me for the class play we performed. It was my first year teaching. I made a lot of mistakes, but that moment where I was channeling Mrs. Sams made a lasting impression on her. She told me it was what ignited her passion for acting. I also received a note from a student about how much she enjoyed science experiments and writing in her science journal when she was in my class. Another Mrs. Sams’ moment. I hope I will continue to get those notes from students. And maybe someday they will become a teacher and pass on that passion the same way Mrs. Sams passed it on to me. You never know where your impact will end.

About Nikki Piercy

Nikki is a 6th-grade reading teacher in Central Illinois. Prior to teaching middle school, Nikki taught 3rd and 4th grade. In addition, Nikki is a Digital Content Editor with the Teach Better Team. She graduated from Illinois State University with a bachelor’s in Elementary Education in 2006 and a master’s degree in Teaching and Learning in 2016.

She is passionate about fostering a love for reading in all students. One of her main goals is to bring diverse and relevant literature into all classrooms.

Nikki loves to spend her free time reading a good book while cuddling with her cat and dog. She also enjoys spending time with her daughter. They love to thrift, explore new foods, and go on adventures.