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A Lesson Learned: ING Survey Finds Teachers Have a Profound and Lasting Impact on Our Lives, Yet Are Vastly Under-Appreciated

Submitted by: ING

Categories: Philanthropy & Corporate Contributions, Research, Reports & Publications

Posted: Apr 28, 2010 – 08:31 AM EST


ATLANTA, Apr. 28 /CSRwire/ - According to ING Foundation Survey:

  • 88% of Americans say they had a teacher who had a "significant, positive impact" on their life

  • 98% believe that a good teacher can change the course of a student's life

  • Outside of family, teachers seen as having the greatest impact on our lives growing up

Teachers Admired Yet Under-Appreciated:

  • 87% of Americans wish they had told their best teachers how much they appreciated their efforts

  • Teachers perceived as receiving less gratitude than social workers, nurses, clergy or doctors

  • 94% of Americans agree that we need to do more to recognize our good teachers

Survey Conducted in Conjunction with National Teacher of the Year Award Program

Leading by Example: Iowa's Sarah Brown Wessling Receives 2010 National Teacher of the Year Award, Presented by ING Foundation

Nearly all Americans believe that a good teacher can change the course of a student's life, yet the teaching profession remains tremendously under-appreciated, according to the results of a nationwide survey released today by the ING Foundation in conjunction with the announcement of the National Teacher of the Year Award. The ING Foundation is the presenting sponsor of the award.

A program of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), the National Teacher of the Year Award is the nation's oldest, most prestigious awards program recognizing excellence in K-12 education. President Barack Obama will name Sarah Brown Wessling of Johnston, Iowa, as the 2010 National Teacher of the Year in special ceremonies at the White House on April 29. All State Teachers of the Year will also attend the celebration.

"As our research shows, effective teachers can have a significant influence on their students' lives, yet their efforts are generally under-appreciated," said Rhonda Mims, president of the ING Foundation and senior vice president of ING's Office of Corporate Responsibility and Multicultural Affairs. "Recognition programs like this one have a critical role to play in reminding us of the nobility of the profession and of the lasting impact teachers have on our lives."

This year's recipient, Sarah Brown Wessling, is an English teacher and English Department Chair at Johnston High School in Johnston, Iowa, where she is in her 11th year as a teacher. She is the 60th recipient of this prestigious national award. Wessling holds a B.A. in English Education and a Master of Arts in English from Iowa State University. Wessling was recognized for her community involvement, interactive and innovative teaching style and her inclusiveness in the classroom. Wessling will begin a year as a full-time national and international spokesperson for education on June 1, 2010.

"As long-standing supporters of academic professionals, we are honored to be a part of the National Teacher of the Year program," said Catherine Smith, CEO, ING U.S. Retirement Services. "All of us at ING want to extend our congratulations to Sarah, a true innovator, leader and role model both in and out of the classroom."

"By sponsoring the National Teacher of the Year program, we are able to recognize, honor and thank teachers such as Sarah, who are committed to helping our children excel," added Smith. "At ING, we understand the critical role our nation's teachers play in preparing today's youth for tomorrow's challenges. That's why we, in turn, are committed to helping educators meet the challenge of their own financial future through our retirement products, services and support for the academic community."

Transforming Lives

Almost nine in 10 (88%) of the 1,000 Americans age 18+ who were surveyed said they had a teacher growing up who had a "significant, positive impact" on their life. Nearly all Americans (98%) believe that a good teacher can change the course of a student's life. In fact, outside of immediate family, teachers were seen by Americans as the group that had the greatest, positive impact on their lives growing up, even more so than friends.

Teachers help in many ways. Among the vast majority of Americans who said they had a teacher or teachers who had a "significant, positive impact" on their life growing up, 83% said they had a teacher who helped build their confidence and self-esteem, 79% had a teacher who encouraged them to pursue their dreams, 75% said a teacher served as a mentor or role model, and 54% said that a teacher helped them through a tough time.

"It's an unbelievable testament to the profession that Americans so resoundingly believe in a teacher's ability to transform lives," said Mims. "Whether sending a student down a path they hadn’t considered or simply ensuring them they are ready for the road ahead, a teacher's impact can be profound and enduring."

The telephone survey of 1,000 adults was conducted between April 9 and April 11, 2010, by the national polling firm of GfK Roper. All respondents were at least 18 years of age. The margin of error for the 1,004 interviews is +/-3.0.

Admired, Yet Over-Looked and Under-Appreciated

An overwhelming 93% of those surveyed agree that teaching is a noble profession, and 89% believe teachers have a "really hard job."

At the same time, there is general acknowledgment that we have not done enough to recognize good teachers. Overall, teachers are perceived as receiving less gratitude than other "helping professionals," including doctors, nurses, social workers or clergy. The vast majority of Americans (94%) acknowledge that we need to do more to recognize our teachers. Reflecting on their own educational experience, 87% wish they had told their best teachers how much they appreciated their efforts.

"While admiration for the teaching profession is widespread, expressions of gratitude are few and far between," noted Smith. "Most of us had a teacher growing up who cultivated a love of learning, helped us through a trying time or encouraged us to pursue our dreams. The first week of May is Teacher Appreciation Week. It's never too late to say thanks for some lessons that lasted a lifetime."

About ING
ING is a global financial institution of Dutch origin offering banking, investments, life insurance and retirement services to over 85 million private, corporate and institutional clients in more than 40 countries. With a diverse workforce of over 107,000 people, ING comprises a broad spectrum of prominent companies that increasingly serve their clients under the ING brand.

In the U.S., the ING (NYSE: ING) family of companies offers a comprehensive array of financial services to retail and institutional clients, which includes life insurance, retirement plans, mutual funds, managed accounts, alternative investments, direct banking, institutional investment management, annuities, employee benefits and financial planning. ING holds top-tier rankings in key U.S. markets and serves nearly 30 million customers across the nation.

ING's diversity management philosophy and commitment to workforce diversity, diversity marketing, corporate citizenship and supplier diversity fosters an inclusive environment for employees that supports a distinctive product and service experience for the financial services consumer. For more information, visit

About the ING Foundation
The ING Foundation's mission is to improve the quality of life in the communities where ING operates and its employees and customers live. Through charitable giving and employee volunteerism, the foundation focuses on sustainable programs in the areas of financial literacy, children's education, diversity and environmental sustainability. For more information, visit

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