Now retired from the classroom, Mike Flagg had always wanted to be a teacher and enjoyed interacting with his students.

By Katherine Dorsett Bennett, CNN

Editor’s Note: In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week this week, we’re asking our colleagues at CNN to share their stories of teachers who have inspired them. Katherine Dorsett Bennett is a copy editor at

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” - quote by William Arthur Ward, American scholar.

As an elementary student, I enjoyed reading the newspaper and watching the news on TV. I had a natural curiosity about current events. I grew up in LaPorte, Indiana, and was interested to learn all I could about my small town and the big world outside of it.

My curiosity about news turned into a passion the day I stepped into Mike Flagg’s fourth-grade class at Door Village Elementary School in 1981. Some of his lesson plans included classroom time to discuss current events and how they impacted our lives. He explained to us, for instance, how significant it was for Sandra Day O’Connor to be appointed as the first female member of the U.S. Supreme Court that year. He put in context this great achievement for women and got me excited about government and how journalists reported about it.

Mike Flagg opened my eyes to a news report about the introduction of the Boeing 767 - a plane that made its first flight in 1981 and could carry a large amount of people to places all over the world. Little did I know back then that I would one day write about travel destinations and many other types of stories about places around the world for CNN.

Mike Flagg made it fun and exciting to discuss and analyze the news and look at images of current events he displayed on the classroom projector. (Projectors were high-tech gadgets back in the 80s!) His passion for teaching us about current events elevated my interest in journalism.

He taught elementary school children for 33 years and retired in 2001. He always wanted to be a teacher and enjoyed interacting with his many students. He said the rewards of teaching included the moments when he would watch a student’s face light up as he or she grasped a lesson.

He’s now 66-years-old and spending his retirement years cooking, reading and watching his four grandchildren grow up. He’s helping his grandkids with their school work, too. It will be interesting to see the lasting impression he’ll leave on them as they grow older. I hope he’s proud of the lasting impression he gave to me.

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