Shelter from the Storm: Teaching a life that matters

January 29, 2013  |  People

Ms. Maria Rosa Reifler is a fifth grade teacher at Wilcox Elementary School in East Los Angeles. It’s a tough place to grow up and requires a special type of teacher to get the best out of its students. Ms. Reifler seems to be that kind of teacher.


Not only does Ms. Reifler provide a safe learning environment for her students, she goes a step further and teaches the kids to like themselves and never stop striving to improve their own lives. Ms. Reifler empowers her students to achieve, and that sense of control can mean the world for a kid who faces many issues at home that he/she cannot control.

Personal Aside: I’ve known a teacher like Ms. Reifler myself. Her name is Ms. Loughlin, and she taught 5th grade at Jefferson Elementary School in San Francisco. She taught me not only to trust in my abilities, but to take control of my life and create my own consequences. It’s a mantra I still hold dearly and I credit my work ethic and perseverance to her lessons. She’s inspired hundreds of kids like me and continued to do so until her retirement.

She asks, “What kind of human being are you going to be?” and insists that we must teach the total human being. She teaches that we should not tell a child that a certain job or salary is the ultimate goal of education, but rather, education’s end-goal should be to develop an emotionally healthy and constructive adult. It’s a stance that treats education not only as a tool, but as a formative experience in a child’s life. One of the highlights of the video is when her students tell us what they want to be when they grow up, and it’s quite the inspiring little clip.

Ms. Reifler is the kind of person this section of CraveGood was made to feature. Not only does she create impact that is genuine, directed, and effective, but she inspires others, kids and adults alike. Many of us have known a “Ms. Reifler” in our lives; a teacher or mentor who pushed us further than we thought we could go and helped us find a vision for the future that we could work towards.

As the education sector progresses with endeavors like edtech and policy reform gaining support, we should not forget just how impactful a small change in the classroom experience can be.


In the spirit of celebrating great teachers and teaching, we’ve highlighted organizations you can contribute to that directly improve classrooms around the country. This is of course, in addition to personally reconnecting with and thanking those teachers who have gone the extra mile for you.

Video Credit: John X. Carey (@Johnxcarey)

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