WENATCHEE — Teachers work every day to inspire their students, but gauging the full impact is an impossible task.
“Often they have no idea how much they touch the lives of the students with whom they spend time every day,” said Eldene Wall, who landed on an idea about 20 years ago to help shine a light on some of their successes.
Her “Teachers Make a Difference” book project — the 17th edition will go to print soon — provides students an opportunity to share stories that might otherwise never be told about how their teachers have touched their lives. The books, composed of student essays, are sold to fund two or three scholarships each year for students who want to go on to become teachers.
“It provides a wonderful continuity,” she said.
Wall retired last summer as the executive assistant at the North Central Educational Service District after 29 years and continues to be involved in the North Central Education Foundation, the nonprofit fundraising arm that provides grants for teachers and scholarships for students.
“I had a strong desire to do something that would have an impact upon teachers and students, and came up with the idea of writing a book similar to ‘Profiles in Courage’ after reading how Carolyn Kennedy planned to continue this project in honor of her father,” she said. "I invited students and people from the community to write stories about teachers who had made a difference in their lives."
She received encouragement to start and continue the effort from a succession of bosses, the ESD superintendents — Gene Sharratt, Rich McBride and Michelle Price — along with Ray Taylor, the then-executive director of Community Foundation of NCW.
“Our first book was done as a joint North Central ESD/Make a Difference Day project, and I invited students and people from the community to write stories about teachers who had made a difference in their lives,” she said. “We received many inspiring stories and published the book.”
Printing costs for the first book were funded by the Community Foundation.
“It was Mr. Taylor who came up with the idea of offering Teachers Make a Difference scholarships, a great idea that resulted in a source of stories, because essays about teachers who had made a difference in the lives of the students applying for the scholarship was a requirement to include with the application.”
The scholarships have been awarded since 2009 through a partnership between the North Central Education Foundation and the North Central Educational Service District.
Wall prepares the stories and photos and does the layout for book each year. She designs the covers and gathers all the information needed for the foreword and dedications.
Wall said not all the teachers know they are the subject of the essays beforehand.
“Teachers are very touched,” she said. “When scholarship awards are presented we always call attention to the teacher the scholarship winner wrote about. I have seen teachers so touched they have tears in their eyes.”
Students’ stories have evolved over the years.
“I have seen stories about teachers helping students in their personal lives increase,” she said. “It seems like students have to deal with not only their own challenges, but also problems of their parents — whether it is divorce, drugs, neglect, financial problems or ignorance.”
She received 18 essay applications for the 2019 book.
To order a book, contact Wall at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 665-2629.