My book Get Together is now available—Amazon bestseller! 📙

Connecting the Dots Between Past Students and Great Teachers of the World

September 14th, 2011

Within 24 hours of moving to NYC, I shook hands and agreed to sublet this awesome bedroom in Park Slope, Brooklyn for my first two months as a fresh West Coast transplant. I’d spend the coming weeks in the lovely company of Nick and Stephanie, enjoying a beer on the stoop and applying Tattly tattoos I’d bring home from the office.

Nick is only a few years older than me, working as a middle school teacher nearby. I remember one night as we discussed how he stumbled into the job–a path that involved starting out in architecture and ending up in a philosophy Master’s program–I asked him in passing, “So…did you have any really amazing teachers growing up?”

I love that question. I love it because everyone seems to have a great story to answer with. I wouldn’t connect all the dots as to how this new idea came to be, but over the next few weeks that conversation would linger, and I would soon be lucky enough to find myself with a small team of people invested in bringing ThanksForTeaching.Us to life.

Launched as an original project by TBD (a badass social good newsletter I get to handle with Sophia these days), ThanksForTeaching.Us is a platform for you to share your thanks for a standout teacher from your past. It’s simple. There’s a big madib-esque form and a growing grid of allstar teacher stories overlaid on some sweet custom doodles.

The education system in this country has been getting a lot of heat recently. In my circles, topics like the California public education budget crisis or the lack of creativity among teachers and students are hot topics that (although incredibly important) definitely add to the negative energy surrounding our school system. It became apparent a few weeks ago, that with the approach of back to school season there was no better time to provide a space for the spotlight to shine on the positive effect that great teachers have had on us.

We are the product of great teachers.

Amidst the tough challenges facing education today, there are still these great memories and stories that occur everyday thanks to influential educators. Lots of times, I boil down making positive change to putting awesome, passionate people in the best position to be awesome and passionate. For me, ThanksForTeaching.Us started with the goal to get these thank you messages in the hands of those educators. We don’t show our appreciation often enough, and after speaking with some of my past teachers, that sort of recognition of making a difference makes the job worth it.

ThanksForTeaching.Us has been live for just about 12 hours, and we’re honored to have over 400 touching, personal great teacher stories already posted. We haven’t figured it all out yet, but I think there’s so much potential there in that simple human connection, and what we have now is a step in that direction.

Nick obviously had a great story about a past teacher as he replied to my question. Someone made him think, challenged his understanding, and inspired him to do what he’s doing now. I’m not sure where this project will lead, but if I can make someone’s day, or inspire one more stellar teacher out there to keep affecting students’ lives, it’s all been well worth it.

Learn more and submit your story at
Big thank you to the team: Sophia, Elena, John (vid), Yoko (web), and Nathan

If you have any ideas for where we can take this project, I’d love to hear from you. Say hello at

Tagged: education, ourfutureistbd, TBD, teacher appreciation, teachers, thanks for teaching us,