You’re on My List

Gabbie Zastrow, an eighth-grade teacher at Pilgrim Park Middle School, made my list. Mrs. Zastrow (center) was recently awarded an Early Career Educator Award by the Wisconsin Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. Also pictured: James Holman (left) and Alan Bitter (right), assistant professors of education at Wisconsin Lutheran College.

By Al Bitter — Vladimir Putin made the list. So did Serena Williams, Hillary Clinton, and Miley Cyrus. Each year TIME Magazine publishes a list of 100 leaders, heroes, thinkers, and artists who “most affect our world.” We might argue whether the effect these movers and shakers have is positive or negative, but there’s no denying their influence.

Even though TIME’s website allows you to sort the list according to profession, age, gender, and birthplace, I didn’t see anyone listed in the role of teacher, education professor or parent. Still, as we close another school year, those are the people in my top 100. At the risk of sounding like a late night Top Ten, here’s my list of influential people for whom I’m grateful.

If you adapted your classroom or your teaching style to accommodate a special needs student, you’re on my list. If you volunteered at your child’s school, you’re on my list. If your passion for teaching inspired college students to use their many talents as tomorrow’s teachers, you’re on my list. If you helped a teenager negotiate the perils of middle school, you’re on my list. If you read a book to a child, you’re on my list.

Most of us won’t lead a political movement, negotiate with world leaders, collect Grand Slam victories, or make a run up the pop charts, but our influence may well last longer. TIME will name another hundred next year. Some on the 2014 list will remain influential; others will be hard to remember a year from now. Repeaters are rare. Yet we are in the unique position of having a hand in influencing not only the next generation of leaders, artists, pioneers, and icons, but also contributing citizens, loving parents, and caring teachers. Thanks for your partnership in this worthy endeavor.

Build Your Own List

Option 1
My list is admittedly incomplete – and well short of 100. Use the comments section to add your candidate selections.

Option 2
Speculate by thinking of students you have now. For what innovation or accomplishment might they be on TIME’s list in 2024, 2034, or 2044? Or a similar local list on


Al Bitter, M.A.Ed., serves as Assistant Professor of Education and Director of Certification/Licensure at Wisconsin Lutheran College.  He works with pre-service teachers from entry-level courses through student teaching and teaches a professional development plan writing course for recent graduates. Related service includes a term on the Department of Public Instruction’s Professional Standards Council. On other lists of favorites are travel, grandchildren, and “Storming the Bastille” each summer in Milwaukee. 

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