The type of teacher most likely to be remembered by students

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Conducted by OnePoll and commissioned by Staples, the survey asked 2,000 Americans about their favorite school teacher and the impact that teacher had on their life after school. (Photo by Nicole Honeywill on Unsplash)

Late night hospital visits, class cookouts in the mountains and horse rides dressed as Shakespeare — these are just some of the best memories Americans have of their favorite teachers, according to a new survey.

Americans owe a lot to their teachers: From calling home to check up on them after a bad day (39 percent) to staying late to help with homework (38 percent), it comes as no surprise that 83 percent said a teacher made a meaningful impact on their life.

Showing just how much teachers go above and beyond, one respondent said their teacher offered to pay their school fees and another had their teacher to thank for getting through the heartache of losing a parent.

Conducted by OnePoll and commissioned by Staples, the survey asked 2,000 Americans about their favorite school teacher and the impact that teacher had on their life after school, and found two in five said they owe their career success to an old school teacher.

Results also found 77 percent had a favorite teacher, yet nearly one third have never thanked them and wish they did.

Americans have their teachers to thank for affecting large parts of their lives such as their personal values and morals (49 percent) and their level of education (39 percent).

Over 30 percent of Americans owe both their college choice and major choice to a past teacher.

A quarter of Americans polled also gave credit to teachers for impacting how they raised their own children.

Top of the class for America’s favorite teacher was an English teacher, according to results, followed by math, science and history teachers.

Results also show that Americans felt quite fond of their teachers in their last two years of high school — with 26 and 31 percent reporting their favorite teachers taught them in their junior and senior years, respectively.

Often pulling from their own pockets, it comes as no surprise that three in 10 respondents reported a teacher had bought them school supplies if they couldn’t afford them, as well as bought them lunch if they didn’t bring one or have lunch money.

The memories didn’t stop at school, as nearly three-quarters of Americans have stayed in touch with a past teacher. And thanks to the modern era, Americans stay in touch with an average of three teachers over social media.

Those aged 25–34 were the most likely to stay in touch with a past teacher, with 86 percent reporting they have kept in touch with at least one since leaving school.

The top activity respondents did with a favorite teacher was meet up for lunch or dinner (47 percent), followed by meeting at a community event (46 percent).

Of those polled, 34 percent even invited a past teacher to meet their own children.

“Teachers play a pivotal role in shaping our future. The relationships that teachers foster with their students can be some of the most enduring and powerful relationships out there,” said Ashley Swenson, VP of Retail Marketing for Staples.

“Yet often, appreciation for teachers and importance of their impact go under recognized. This back-to-school season, Staples is creating an opportunity to acknowledge this impact. We’re encouraging everyone to say thanks to a teacher that impacted his or her life in a meaningful way.”

To express their gratitude, nearly 70 percent have given a gift to a past teacher.

The most popular gift was something handmade (35 percent), followed by baked goods (32 percent), mugs (31 percent) and bookstore gift cards (30 percent).

Three in 10 Americans kept it classic and gifted their teacher an apple.

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The back-to-school season isn’t just a time to see friends again, as 42 percent said seeing their teachers was their favorite part of going back to school.

“The back to school season is a busy time for parents, teachers and students as they get ready for a new year,” said Shauna Marhafer, Director, Loyalty & Customer Development Marketing of Staples. “During this upcoming back to school season, Staples will help offset teacher expenses through a joint effort with parents. Now through September 15, 2019, parents can give 5 percent of in-store and online purchases back to a teacher or school of their choosing through Staples Classroom Rewards.”

America’s Favorite Teacher Memories (edited for length and/or clarity):

  • A teacher offered to pay my school fees.
  • He visited me often after school hours when I was hospitalized.
  • He took our whole sixth grade class to his home in the mountains for a cookout picnic.
  • Holding class outside and one time rode in on a horse dressed in Shakespearean attire.
  • Everyone would go to her to pull our loose teeth. She was gentle and we trusted her.
  • During my third grade, I got a high fever at school. My teacher sat with me and fed me my lunch.
  • My French teacher had me enter an essay contest for a study of Europe. Unbelievably, I won. She talked my very strict parents into letting me go.
  • I was afraid to be in school and so I hid behind a snow bank when I was six. My teacher saw me and put her arm around me and said she was so happy to see me and have me in her classroom. I never forgot that.
  • My high school English teacher knew my parents were in the midst of a divorce. She knew I loved to write, and she would take her lunch in her room, and invite me to come and critique my work. I owe much of my University success to those sessions.
  • I don’t have a favorite memory really but I am in contact still with my first grade teacher. She lives in a nursing home now. She never had any children of her own. I go and see her every chance I get.
  • I remember I was facing a challenge in math and my teacher spent his free time teaching me until I was able to understand everything. I am forever grateful.
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America’s favorite teachers

  1. English 43%
  2. Math 38%
  3. Science 35%
  4. History 25%
  5. Music 21%
  6. Grade school 20%
  7. Health 18%
  8. Art 15%
  9. PE 15%
  10. Home economics 13%
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Best gifts to say thank you to a teacher

  1. Handmade gift 35%
  2. Baked goods 32%
  3. Mugs 31%
  4. Bookstore gift card 30%
  5. Apple 30%
  6. Supermarket gift card 27%
  7. Coffee gift card 26%
  8. Holiday decorations 24%
  9. Lotion/personal care items 21%
  10. Restaurant gift card/certificate 20%
  11. Home store gift card 20%
  12. Movie passes 15%

>> Download the video & infographic for this research story <<

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