Thankful for Teachers

As the season of giving arrives, join us in giving thanks for those who have touched our lives in meaningful ways. Here at Turnitin, we’re taking a moment to reflect on the educators who have shaped who we are today. Whether it was an elementary teacher or a graduate school professor, the folks here want to share their appreciation for the incredible teachers that continue to be sources of inspiration.


I am thankful for my elementary school (3rd and 4th grade) teacher, Mrs. Lindemann, who inspired me to join the world of education. Mrs. Lindemann had an amazing way of making learning fun. Her enthusiasm for learning transferred to her creative activities such as learning through music, dramatic readings, and my all-time favorite: the Oregon Trail simulation. It was because of her that I decided to become a teacher and dedicate my profession to helping other teachers. Thank you for being a lasting mentor, Mrs. Lindemann!

- Kristin Van Gompel, Senior Curriculum Specialist

I’m submitting someone who was never actually my teacher: my mom. Carole Robie taught grade school and middle school, was a grade school principal, an assistant superintendent and now sits on the board of a charter school. All of these positions were in Alameda, CA. She currently coaches principals through a program at UC Berkeley. As you might imagine, growing up in a smaller town like Alameda, and having a mom who taught or led schools for 35 years, I didn’t always appreciate that she knew so many people (read: hard to get away with stuff as a teenager!).

However, when I recently started going to a new chiropractor we realized we grew up in the same town and we played the “name game”. My mom was his principal when he was in grade school and a recent immigrant from Afghanistan. He told me how the kids used to bully him and not let him play sports, but that Mrs. Robie stood up for him and shut the bullies down.  This is totally consistent with who she is and what she values. She taught me from a young age how important it is to stand up for people and be as inclusive as possible. Super grateful for my mom.

- Anne Robie, Senior VP of People and Places

Ann Lewis was my Adolescent Literature professor in my undergraduate work at Salisbury University, a Turnitin institution. The class itself was brilliant, and Ann really activated my understanding of how YA literature could bring to life any subject matter, and she helped me to learn that the "classics" are not the only thing that matters when you're trying to develop lifelong readers. If that had been the only experience I had with Ann, it would have been enough, but it wasn't. Ann grew so close to a group of us that she hired each and every one of us as teachers from her position as Wicomico County Public Schools' English Supervisor.

Over the years that Ann was both my boss and my work mom, I continued to learn from her. In her observations, she was always thoughtful and appreciative, but she also pushed me. I learned to design curriculum working with her and took countless continuing education courses from her in my first five years of teaching. Many of those classes shaped my educational philosophy in ways that resonate today. I took courses in differentiated instruction, rubric development, grading, Understanding by Design, literacy... pretty much anything she taught, I took. Even today, I turn to her when I need to talk about deep content subjects. It is no exaggeration to say that without Ann Lewis I would not be the Patti West-Smith that I am today.

- Patti West-Smith, Curriculum Content Manager

The teacher on whom I always think back so fondly is Mrs. Howard, who was my English teacher during all of Middle School. Because I was able to have her for ELA grades 6-8, we were able to create a bond unlike any bond that could be created over one single year together. She really got to know me over those three years, and that allowed her, as a teacher, to really figure out how to best motivate and guide me through my education. She also had a way of allowing her classes to learn by application and creation, rather than by dictating what we were supposed to learn from a textbook or lecture. Because of this, we were always up and moving, something that is not often easy to do in ELA classrooms. Many plays were performed and tons of crazy projects were created, but my classmates and I learned more that way than we would have through traditional teaching styles. Her dedication to her students and her passion for teaching are both reasons that I first wanted to become an ELA teacher, and are likely part of why I am where I am today. I'm definitely thankful for the role that she has played in my education.

- Katie Wike, Content Specialist

I was in 7 different schools in three countries for grades K-12 and one teacher who really stood out was an 11th grade English teacher who taught us about word origins. Knowing the Latin or Greek roots of so many words has helped me with English AND French, Spanish, and even Germanic languages.  Helps me kick butt now while watching Jeopardy!

- Marcy Zimmerman, Email Marketing Manager

My 3rd grade teacher, Ms. Bianchi, was hugely influential. I remember a lot of my childhood. I remember being a really quiet kid up until 3rd grade when a switch flipped and I came out of my shell— in a BIG way. I was pretty loud in Ms. Bianchi's class, and eventually, I must have become disruptive because a day came when she needed to take me outside the classroom "for a talk". (Please note that I was a very obedient child and being taken aside was a fate worse than death, to be sure.) During this talk, Ms. Bianchi refrained entirely from scolding me. She leveled with the precocious child before her and said something to the effect of, "You were very quiet at the beginning of the year, and now you're on the other extreme! You must find the happy medium, the balance between the two." She taught me, in that moment, about self-regulation and the importance of seeking balance in building one's character. It was the most important lesson of 3rd grade, to say the least!

- Alyssa Vigil, Customer Programs Manager

My favorite teacher was Patrick Ojeda, my English and Film Studies teacher in 11th and 12th grades, respectively, at Patrick Henry High School in San Diego (a school that now uses Turnitin!). The English class was filled with type-A overachievers who were very focused on "studying to the test" and getting into good colleges, and not so focused on actually absorbing the literature we were learning about. He found very creative and authentic ways to get us to slow down, connect to the material, broaden our horizons, and engage more deeply in our cultural context. It was an incredibly moving and formative journey for everyone in the class, and forever changed my perspective on the kind of personal growth that can occur in a classroom setting.

- Meredith Kleinow, Senior Business Systems Analyst

Mrs. Pomposo was my third-grade teacher at Anderson Elementary in San Jose, CA. She was the first and possibly the only teacher that I felt helped me with using your imagination and creativity. She made the characters come to life and made me feel like a true child. I feel like being in her classroom for that year made me see that life could be a bit more light-hearted and fun, which I did not get at home. She also helped me a ton with my reading and spelling, as I struggled with these two things a lot because of my second language. She would help me remember how to spell certain words in such a unique way. It was also new to me for someone to take so much interest in me. It was a year of smiles and I was sad when it was over. 

- Melissa Ruiz, Events Marketing Manager

One teacher who had a real impact on my career and life was my high school physics teacher, Mr. Bakken.  His gift was bringing the real world applications and importance of physics to life and made the subject very engaging for everyone.  My Bakken taught in a way that left his students curious to explore and learn more on their own.  He also created a learning environment where each of us was motivated to do our best work: not to compete with the rest of the class, but to push to learn as much as we each could in the class.

Although I took this class almost 15 years before Turnitin was founded, Palo Alto High School now is a happy customer of ours.  In fact, I returned to campus last year to give a lunch-time talk during their career week, and 200 students showed up, mainly to learn more about the company behind the product they all used.  It was an amazing hour!

 - Chris Caren, CEO

My apologies to the teacher to whom I am thankful, as I cannot for the life of me remember her name. I think she'd be pleased to know that, rather than her name, her methods are what stayed with me and profoundly influenced the teacher I became and the writer I am still striving to be.

She was a professor for one of my Language and Literacy Education classes in my undergraduate coursework. One assignment required us to write a short story based on a given theme and bring it to a small-group writer's workshop. I had never in my own schooling experienced this approach to writing feedback. Our peers would be commenting on a predetermined focus area in our writing, and an additional one of our choosing. We wrote comments on post-it notes affixed to printed copies of the stories and rotated through them in a round-robin format. After we finished reading each other's work, we read aloud our stories and our peers shared their positive and constructive feedback. Ample time was given to process this criticism and revise our stories before submitting them to our professor. While I was expecting a "grade" on my story, I wasn't expecting the insightful feedback she provided. She evaluated my achievement of the focus correction areas, but she connected with the elements of my story in a way that was productive and personal.

Of all the instructional approaches shared in that course, this lesson shaped the cornerstone of my pedagogy: that modeling the process of writing and honoring the writer can both be achieved through effective feedback.

- Jill Crivelli, Senior Curriculum Specialist


Thank you to all of the teachers, mentors, and educators who are changing lives every day. From everyone here at Turnitin, we hope that you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!