StoryCorps’ Day of Listening: “Let us give thanks for teachers who changed our lives”

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StoryCorps chose a special theme for this year’s National Day of Listening, the four-year-old public radio tradition of encouraging Americans to take time out over the Thanksgiving holiday to recognize their loved ones through the simple art of intimate conversation.

Instead of family members, participants are being asked to set aside some time on Friday, Nov. 25, to recognize favorite teachers. “National Day of Listening 2011 will send a powerful and necessary message to teachers across the nation: that they matter, and that we as a nation are grateful for the impact they have on our lives,” said David Isay, StoryCorps founder and radio documentarian.

As in previous years, National Day of Listening coincides with the day after Thanksgiving, one of the biggest shopping days of the year. “A lot of people think of it as Black Friday and a shopping day,” Isay said during a Nov. 21 appearance on KUNC in Greeley, Colo. “This is a way to do something a little more meaningful.”

Audie Cornish of NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday got the ball started on Nov. 20 by interviewing her high school history teacher Lynn Harding. Retired since 1999, Harding recalled that some students shortened her last name to “Hard,” reflecting what her classes were like for them.

“You pushed me a lot,” Cornish says to Harding.

“Yes, that’s what I remember,” Harding replies. “But it didn’t harm you in any way we can see.”

In addition to recording face-to-face interviews, participants can share a memory or express thanks to teachers on Facebook, Twitter (@storycorps #thankateacher) and YouTube, where the animated short of a feared but revered Sunday school teacher, “Miss Devine,” is being featured to promote National Day of Listening.

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