December 27, 2023
This year, the International Collaborative Writing Group of the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (ISSOTL ICWG) began a podcast series that “shares global stories that reveal the mosaic of experiences of teaching and learning across careers, fields, and disciplines for the betterment of the public good.” Ranging from 40 minutes to an hour, these conversations with scholars from across the globe are either a tribute to teachers that have made a difference for current educators, or a discussion of teaching and learning scholarship, or both. Whether you are looking for inspiration or searching for ideas, you are sure to find information on transformative teaching and learning.
When I saw the announcement about this podcast series The Teacher I Never Thanked, I immediately thought of the teacher I never had a chance to thank – Mrs. Carolyn DeThomas. Mrs. DeThomas was my 11th grade chemistry teacher at Plainville High School in Plainville, CT. She is the reason I started on a pathway to be the scientist I am today. She was my first female science teacher, and the first teacher to ever tell me that I was good at a subject. Mrs. DeThomas encouraged me to pursue a science degree, and not just a bachelors degree but to go even further than that. I will never forget how fun she made learning chemistry and all of the positive energy during every class period and lab session.
Back in 2013, I decided to reach back out to Mrs. DeThomas, who I had never spoken to since I graduated high school. There was so much I wanted to share about my academic journey, my career experiences, etc. Alas, she had passed away just two months prior to me searching out her contact information. It still crushes me that I never had a chance to thank her for those words she told me back in high school, and how I always carried her words with me in the past and through the present.
So as you make out your to-do list for the new year, perhaps add one more line item. Take a moment and reach out to the teacher(s) that made a difference in your own journey as a scientist/educator. I like to think Mrs. DeThomas would have been so happy to hear from me and so proud that her words of mentoring made a difference.