I grew up hearing my father talk about his treks to a one-room schoolhouse in Aiken, SC, says a contributor for Takepart.com. Those seven-mile walks, verified by the car odometer, were mitigated because he loved his teacher and couldn’t wait to sit in her classroom. She inspired him to learn, and her encouragement propelled him to go to college at the age of 15. I came to fully understand my father’s feelings when Helen Shelton became my first-grade teacher. Not only did she inspire me, but she also truly made me feel as though I was the smartest kid in the world and that I could be and do anything. She helped to set me on a path of learning and growing in school. Like me and my dad, millions of other Americans have been inspired and motivated by their teachers. As we consider the best way to evaluate and judge teacher effectiveness, I am struck by a question rarely asked in this brave new world of high-stakes testing, peer reviews and student performance: How do we measure inspiration?

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