How Could We Ever Thank You?

May 6, 2016


This week, all of us should have set aside some time to thank those people who have sacrificed so much to place us on the path toward success – those people are teachers! So to celebrate, a couple of us at PPI took the time to commemorate the most influential teacher in each of our lives. Here they are:

What do John Wayne, “DBQ’s” (Document—based Questions) and TANSTAAFL (economist-speak for “There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch”) all have in common?  They were each much loved by one gregarious high school social studies teacher, Dr. Francis McMann.  With a PhD in economics from the famed University of Chicago, Dr. McMann (or “Fran McMann” as we may have lovingly called him behind his back) could have taught anywhere he wanted.  But instead, he came back to his hometown and poured his life into teaching high school students AP U.S. History and AP Economics (with a life-size cardboard cutout of John “The Duke” Wayne keeping vigil from the back corner of the classroom).

Dr. McMann was known as an exceptionally tough grader…and no rote textbook answers for his class.  No, in Dr. McMann’s class, you were going to go back and read the original historical sources and then synthesize a historical interpretation in class discussion (followed by one of those infernal “DBQ” tests!).  Dr. McMann’s love for history and economics was contagious – one of the key reasons I studied social sciences in college.  And looking back, I can see how he was always making us think more carefully for ourselves.  He pushed us to challenge assumptions about why history happened like it did and what lessons we can learn from it.  That kind of critical thinking has never been more needed as we face the challenges of our generation.  I’ll always be grateful for the impact of Dr. McMann’s wisdom, enthusiasm and drive on my life.

– Ellen Weaver, President of PPI

Choosing the most influential teacher in my growing up years is a simple decision, considering I only had one! Yes, I was home schooled, and my mom was really my only teacher. There are so many reasons why my mom was the most influential teacher in my life beyond the fact that she’s my only choice. First of all, though she might have been my best teacher, I certainly was not her best student. The patience my mom displayed in the face of my laziness, and the effort she devoted to trying to kick-start a learning desire in my life set me on the pass toward success.

The other reason my mom was a great teacher was her dissatisfaction with only teaching me textbook facts—she concerned herself even more with growing my character as a young man. My mom—as we all are well aware of—knew the struggles of the ever-loved teenage years, and my mom did her best to be my biggest encourager and advocate. Whether it was spending the extra time necessary to make me the best student possible, being my biggest cheerleader on the basketball court (or on the bench, more accurately), or being my wisest mentor when I moved onto new challenges at college, my mom deserves the majority of the credit for molding me into who I am today. And for that, I am forever grateful! (oh, and happy Mother’s Day, Mom!)

– Briley Hughes, Outreach Coordinator at PPI