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A Teacher's Impact

The air may still be Milwaukee-summer muggy, but we know that the first day of school is right around the corner. And that got us to thinking: we each took different paths in school, so how did we all end up here? The answer is that there were teachers in each of our lives who made a huge impact on who we are today. Flip through a few of our favorite stories here!

Kirsten Mueller: My 4th grade teacher Frau Munding could stand on her head and had traveled the world. She taught me how to wrap a sari and properly slice a mango, and inspired a lifetime of learning and exploration. The last time I saw her she'd recently gotten back from the Amazon and her first question was "where have you gone lately?"

Mia Tripi: I feel incredibly lucky to have had several teachers that made a real impact on who I am today. Mr. Kalpinski, my high school Economics and AP Government teacher, is the person who first piqued my interest in politics, government and leadership. Without him, I wouldn't have studied Political Science at Marquette, or attended the Les Aspin Center for Government. There I was taught by Father Tim O'Brien, another teacher who made an impact on my life. Father O'Brien has an incredible passion for leadership and doing the right thing as a leader. His depth of knowledge and the first-hand stories he told in class brought each of his lessons to life. (This photo is from my time in Washington, D.C. at the Les Aspin Center for Government. I am pictured with my two roommates walking to class on a snow day.)

James Madlom: I have been fortunate to have many wonderful teachers in my life, so it is difficult to pick just one. But it would be hard to overestimate the impact that Bill Ross - my high school choir director - had on my life. The day he cajoled me into auditioning for Concert Choir was the start of some of the most wonderful experiences of my life and the beginning of lasting friendships, including with the person who became my wife. I had the pleasure of singing for Bill throughout high school, again at Marquette University, and in many musicals in between. Bill was an amazing teacher and friend. The lessons I learned from him, and the joy with which he taught them have made my life richer in innumerable ways. When he passed away, I was asked to help introduce a song at his funeral that reminded me of Bill. There were, as you would expect, so many wonderful choices that came to mind. But one of the first was “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.” Bill led us in singing the beautiful Gilbert Martin arrangement of that hymn each year at Marquette. I admired many things about Bill, but most of all was his deep and abiding faith - the source of that joy he shared with us. This hymn reminds us of Christ’s love and reminds me of how Bill lived that love in his commitment to his students, his family and his friends. I will forever hear Bill in this song, as in so many, and remember that love and the joy it brings.

Elyise Brigman: Ann Guerino was our K4 teacher at St. Mary's Visitation. She let us spray full bottles of Barbasaol shaving cream on our tables and "wash" them using our bare hands. To this day, the smell of that shaving cream brings me back to happy Kindergarten memories.

Jennifer Morton: In 1st/2nd Grade, I was kind of a pain. I was reading pretty significantly ahead of grade level and did not want to work on any other subject during the school day. Luckily, My teacher, Dr Graham, found this endearing instead of annoying. Instead of forcing me to do math, writing, science, etc. while I pouted, she would ask me to do a portion of the classes' assignment and then I could continue reading, with the caveat that if I didn't pass assessments in the other subjects my privileges were revoked. She also gave me additional reading projects to supplement my learning. Dr. Graham took the time to individualize my lessons; I was the only student in my class that was allowed to go on solo trips to the library! She helped me learn to enjoy the subjects that I didn't like, while giving me the freedom to pursue the subject that I loved with extra work so that I was still challenged. I credit Dr. Graham for starting me on the right track as a lifelong learner!

Naomi Quon: Tom Branigan is one of the most influential professors I had in college. He taught me to truly care about clients and do the right thing, no matter what the consequences are. He even took the time to meet with me outside of class to discuss my professional goals and help me make corporate connections in the Milwaukee area!


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