Who’s influencing your children this year?

Jeff vonKaenel

As the summer comes to a close, hundreds of thousands of Sacramento area elementary and high school students will receive an important notification. This notification will impact their happiness in the coming year, influence their future career choices and even their lifetime interests. These students will soon find out who their teacher and/or teachers will be.

When I think of my childhood, I define each year by who my teacher was. After all, from first grade until my senior year in high school, I spent much more time in the same room with my teachers than with my parents. As did my children.

I am happy to say that I had some wonderful teachers. Mrs. Francis, my first grade teacher, taught me to love school. I learned to read in her class. My algebra teacher, Mr. Kohs, gave me an appreciation for math, even though I slept through many of his classes. And my swim coach, Coach Zirzow, took me from being the worst swimmer on the team to the captain in four years of going up and down a pool.

My two children went to Sacramento public schools, and they also had some great teachers who made a huge impact on their lives. Both were lucky enough to have Mrs. Mathews in second grade, who brought high energy and enthusiasm to the classroom. They were also both taught by the unforgettable Mr. Kramer in the third grade, who made science fun. Ms. Jablonski at McClatchy High School brought current events to life for my son. And Mr. Ousley ran West Campus High School’s band and drumline, which was a second family for my daughter.

Teachers were my guides, teaching me the joy of reading, the power of numbers, the wonder of science and the story of America. Teachers gave me insight into the rest of the world and helped me to understand my place in it. Equally important for me and for my children was to have people outside the family who cared about us and who believed in us. I am so grateful for everything these teachers did for me and my children.

Being a child is confusing. And so is being a parent. In my experience, the only people who know the best way to raise children are those who have never had one. The rest of us, who have actually raised children, know that we do not know what we are doing most of the time.

Parenting to me often seemed to be the opposite of science. With science, given similar inputs, you would get the same result each time. That was certainly not the case with parenting. Parenting, for me, has been three decades of the serenity prayer, beseeching a higher power to grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

In the next few days, hundreds of thousands of Sacramento’s young people will be introduced to a new important person in their lives. Those teachers will have a huge impact on our kids. They deserve our support, our respect and our appreciation.

If there was a teacher who made a difference in your life, drop me an email and tell me the story.

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About the Author

Jeff vonKaenel
Jeff vonKaenel is the president, CEO and majority owner of the News & Review newspapers in Sacramento, Chico and Reno.