Students at Cal State Los Angeles / Photo: Francine Orr

#TeacherAppreciation: who changed your life?

There are two things that bother me about Teacher Appreciation Week (which starts today, by the way).

The first one is that it’s a “week” at all. It encourages us to think that if we send our kid to school with some store-bought cookies to put on Ms. Robinson’s desk, then we’ve sufficiently shown our respect for the people who are tasked with shaping the minds of the future. Appreciation that needs a time limit isn’t really appreciation. (If we get a Teacher Appreciation Decade or something, then we’re talking.)

The other thing I don’t like is that we seem to view “teacher” too narrowly. A lot of the people who made me who I am today didn’t have teaching credentials. Some of them I’ve never even met.

I’ve learned more about other cultures from people I follow on Twitter than I did in four years of school. I learned to program by looking at other people’s code and rebuilding it as my own. A couple of friends taught me how to skateboard, which changed the way I look at the structure of city parks forever.

So as we were talking about teachers in the Los Angeles Times newsroom today, I realized — we’ve all been influenced by a variety of people. You’ve probably got a favorite childhood teacher or coach. You probably owe your sense of fashion, or music sense, or interest in a hobby, to some influential person. Maybe someone gave you a “bad example” that you’ve tried to avoid repeating in your own life.

I want to hear about the teachers who changed your life.

Who’s a teacher you’ve been meaning to say “thank you” to? How did they make you who you are today? Write a Response to this post, and tag your post with the Teacher Appreciation tag.

We’ll pull some of the best responses into a post on latimes.com later this week.