May 7 is National Teacher Day, a recognition of the educators who’ve made a positive impact on our lives. To celebrate this day, we asked a few of our favorite personal finance bloggers and personalities to tell us about the influential teachers who helped them get to where they are today.
Julia Scott of BargainBabe.com
As the woman behind personal finance blog BargainBabe.com, Julia Scott is well aware of the need to be organized and meet deadlines – but it took a dose of tough love from her fifth grade teacher to help her master these skills.
“Ms. Zulpo, had few rules in her classroom,” Scott says. “But one of them was that our homework was due at the beginning of the day. We put it on our desk. She collected it. The day began.”
The punishment for not turning in homework: no recess. Unfortunately, one day a young Scott forgot her finished homework on the kitchen table. Later that day, she approached the teacher thinking she could still head out to the playground – her homework was, after all, technically completed.
Says Scott, “Apparently, I had overlooked a teensy part of the homework rule. Not only did the homework have to be completed, it had to be turned in. On time. In physical form. My completed homework one mile away on the kitchen table did not count.”
Scott notes that, while the encounter frustrates her to this day, the experience did have a bright side.
“I’ve never missed a deadline since,” she says. “Nor do I make excuses when something goes wrong. Either you’ve completed the work and having something to show for it, or you sit your tush down when the fun begins.”
Kassondra Moreland of the 52 Week Savings Challenge
Kassondra Moreland became well known earlier this year for starting a Facebook group dedicated to the 52 Week Savings Challenge. Of the thousands of people who took part, one has a special place in Moreland’s heart: her elementary school teacher, Carrie Secret.
Says Moreland, “She taught at an inner city school [in Oakland], and she took a personal interest in all of her students.”
According to Moreland, Secret encouraged class participation by awarding top performers with trips to cultural events like the symphony, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and performances of The Nutcracker.
“Competition was crazy,” Moreland says. “I don’t remember one person who wasn’t trying to compete.”
Says Moreland, “I’ve never had a teacher who cared that much. I don’t think I’ve ever had a teacher more invested in the success of her students.”
Moreland is still in contact with her former teacher; in fact, she was present at Secret’s recent retirement celebration. Moreland tells us that Secret has been able to spend her post-teaching years relaxing in Las Vegas, thanks to a lifetime of practicing the same good money habits she taught her students.
Jim Wang of Bargaineering
The teacher who changed the life of Bargaineering’s Jim Wang wasn’t a teacher in the traditional sense – it was his high school fencing coach.
“Fencing wasn’t an organized sport when I was in high school, it was more of a club sport,” Wang says. “It has since advanced to becoming a sport and the team is quite accomplished, which is no surprise given how good our coach was. Jeffrey Salmon now runs Mission Fencing Center in Rocky Point, New York, and taught me the value of training and hard work.”
Jim Wang proudly calls himself a “typical nerd,” both then and now, and notes that it was Salmon who inspired him to get into organized sports and showed him the benefits of hard work.
Says Wang, “Those things you achieve as a result of hard work are the things you can truly be proud of. Even to this day, I remember fondly those afterschool practices and going to tournaments. I think a little bit of my work ethic today can be traced back to then.”
Which teacher helped you become who you are today? How did they influence you?