Natalie Barnard appreciates Mr. Andy Powell, a teacher at CHASKA HIGH SCHOOL in Chaska, MN

The most influential teacher in my life was my high school teacher, Mr. Andy Powell. Before every class, he would spend the first 10-minutes discussing current events. With a warm smile and a light in his eye, Mr. Powell would enthusiastically ask us to share a story that we had read in the newspaper. It was a brilliant way to get us reading, get us talking, and ultimately get us thinking critically. He let us have a voice, gave space for opinions without being wrong or right. He engaged us with leading questions, showed us that that were two sides to every story, and demonstrated with his actions the power of compassion and understanding. It all tied beautifully into his psychology classes. In those small moments as well as during his daily lessons, he taught me... Everyone is interesting. Everyone has a story. Everyone deserves to be seen and heard. And everyone has a gift to share with the world. I can't think of anything more powerful than that.

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