Next to parents, teachers may be the most influential figures we'll ever have in our lives. In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, we're taking a look at some of the most evocative quotes about these beloved educators.

  1. "The dream begins, most of the time, with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you on to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called truth." —Dan Rather, Journalist
  1. "The test of a good teacher is not how many questions he can ask his pupils that they will answer readily, but how many questions he inspires them to ask him which he finds it hard to answer.” —Alice Wellington Rollins, Author
  1. "I like a teacher who gives you something to take home to think about besides homework.” —Lily Tomlin, Actress
  1. "Most of us end up with no more than five or six people who remember us. Teachers have thousands of people who remember them for the rest of their lives.” —Andy Rooney, Journalist
  1. "There's no word in the language I revere more than teacher. My heart sings when a kid refers to me as his teacher, and it always has. I've honored myself and the entire family of man by becoming a teacher." —Pat Conroy, Author
  1. "… It is a greater work to educate a child, in the true and large sense of that phrase, than to rule a state.” —William Ellery Channing, Preacher and Theologian
  1. "The future of the world is in my classroom today, a future with the potential for good or bad ... Several future presidents are learning from me today; so are the great writers of the next decades, and so are all the so-called ordinary people who will make the decisions in a democracy. I must never forget these same young people could be the thieves and murderers of the future. Only a teacher? Thank God I have a calling to the greatest profession of all! I must be vigilant every day, lest I lose one fragile opportunity to improve tomorrow." —Ivan Welton Fitzwater, Educator
  1. "Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." —Source Unknown, sometimes attributed to William Butler Yeats, Poet
  1. "I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist and that there are as few as there are any other great artists. Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit." —John Steinbeck, Author
  1. "Teaching is the greatest act of optimism.” —Colleen Wilcox, Educator
  1. "A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops." —Henry Brooks Adams, Historian
  1. "Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is the most important." Bill Gates, Technologist and Philanthropist
  1. "The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery." —Mark Van Doren, Poet
  1. "I think the teaching profession contributes more to the future of our society than any other single profession." —John Wooden, Athlete and Coach
  1. "Teachers, I believe, are the most responsible and important members of society because their professional efforts affect the fate of the Earth." —Helen Caldicott, Physician and Author
  1. "It is noble to teach oneself, but still nobler to teach others—and less trouble." —Mark Twain, Author

Updated for 2019.