10/13/2010 07:03 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Linda Mishkin: They broke the Mold When They Made You

There are educators and then there are classroom heroes: those beacons of inspiration that transform lives, stir souls and help minds flourish. Linda Mishkin is one of these individuals.


One of the many things that excites me about The Huffington Post's new Education section is the unique opportunity to spotlight inspiring teachers: the kinds of teachers we need to identify and celebrate so that we may take our cue from them.

For over 20 years, Linda taught high school English at international schools in Caracas, Venezuela; for the last five years, she has taught at a high-needs high school in the South Bronx.

I had the pleasure of being Linda's student 12 years ago. The atmosphere in her classroom is an oasis of learning, a safe haven where the free exchange of ideas is celebrated.

Linda is a certain kind of teacher, an archetype of sorts. She's the kind of extraordinary individual who only comes along once in a lifetime. You know the type. They've made countless movies about this type: it's Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society; it's Michelle Pfeiffer in Dangerous Minds.

Its the kind of individual who, rather than impose and constrain, instead liberates the mind -- she tells you to think big, to challenge your preconceptions, to open your mind and change the world.

She dyes her hair purple and tells you to practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty. She helps you realize your own potential. You know the type. The type that gives you wings, so you can fly like a bird.

Linda Mishkin is a conduit for human flourishing; an individual whose empathy, intellect and compassion are transcendent. She's the kind of teacher who leaves a mark. And you need to know her name.

Sir Ken Robinson's brilliant TED talk reminds us that, unfortunately, the majority of our schools no longer liberate our creativity, but instead surgically remove it through years of conditioning a sheep-like mentality in our students.

It is precisely because there is so much bad that we must celebrate and identify the good! We can acknowledge problems, but should not dwell on them. Instead let's lead the way by highlighting those that most deserve it: the educators that are truly making a difference in the lives of their students. Teachers like Linda Mishkin.

The Imaginary Foundation is a wonderful organization whose messages of hope and imagination echo the ethos of Linda's classroom... "There are things worth believing in, there are things worth being passionate about; and so our action must not be a reaction but a creation. For ideas catch the dewdrops and reflect the cosmos, so let those ideas be noble, let them be poetic and let them be beautiful."

One of the beautiful, wondrous things about the information revolution is the way it extends the reach of each and everyone of us, which means the opportunity to collaborate, educate, and problem-solve as a global community can be more seamless than ever before. So on that note, and to celebrate the epochal-shifting impact that The Huffington Post's Education section will make, today I salute Linda Mishkin, a life-altering teacher whose name everyone should know!