It’s the reward a teacher looks forward to on those long, stressful days–hearing from a former student about how that teacher’s efforts have made a lasting impact. In CEA’s Because of a Teacher campaign, educators are sitting down for video interviews with former students who share the profound impact and influence they’ve had.
“I’m a real introvert, but for some reason, slowly Ms. Graham, with her presence and her ability to teach music, she invited me in through her strength of who she is,” remembers gospel artist, vocalist, producer, and songwriter Kentrell Ragin. “I felt like she was the queen at what she did, and she was the best teacher I’ve ever had.”
Ragin’s natural musical talent was clear to his family from a young age, but when retired Bridgeport music teacher and Connecticut 2019 Teacher of the Year Sheena Graham met him toward the end of his high school career, he’d had limited experience with vocalizing, music literacy, lyric writing, or genres outside of the music he’d learned in church. Watch Graham and Ragin share their story in the video below.
Attending Newington Public Schools a decade ago, Janyah Marquez said she didn’t see teachers who looked like her, that is, until she walked through the door of Elsa Batista’s Spanish class.
Marquez, whose family is from Puerto Rico, is now in her first year teaching at S.A.N.D. School in Hartford and says a big part of her decision to go into teaching was the desire to be that same someone students could identify with.
“To see a former student who is now a young adult in the teaching profession, it’s just so exciting,” says Batista, adding, “To know that I had a piece in that is just awesome.”
Watch Batista and Marquez reminisce below.