Teachers Set Students’ Course in Life

Two teachers made a difference in the life of an upstate New York girl


We know that our children’s teachers are important in their lives as students but we sometimes don’t think of how they might set a child’s course for their entire life. I can honestly say that two teachers did that for me—one in elementary school and one in high school.

When I was a 10-year-old fourth grader my Spanish teacher opened my ears to the Spanish language and my eyes to the cultures of our neighboring Latin American countries. For a young child in upstate New York, this was equivalent to a window on the world! Later, in high school, Sister Peg Brennan, SSJ was both my English teacher and my advisor when I was yearbook editor. She taught me critical thinking, editorial writing, and principles of layout and design that I still follow to this day. Sister Peg believed in me and convinced me that I could be a leader, even at that young age.

During Hispanic Heritage Month I would like to honor Sister Peg for her commitment to education and to her current ministry. She is the founder of a neighborhood organization that helps people deal with urban issues such as poverty, drug abuse and violence by providing a safe haven for neighbors to have a meal, connect with others and learn how to get their lives back on track. Along with being devoted to the lives of others throughout her life, Sister Peg was one of those special mentors that inspired me to seek a career incorporating a love of languages and communications. I am grateful for her and the many other dedicated educators who motivate young people for lifelong learning.


About the author

Andrea Cotter

Andrea Cotter, President and Founder, ACotter Global Brands. Andrea coaches executives and teams helping them to put in place strategies and communications that will take them to the next level.  She is also an Adjunct Professor of Strategic Communication at the NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies. 
During a 30-year career at IBM Corporation, Andrea Cotter held many integrated marketing and communications roles for various IBM products and services and executive roles as Global Director of Linux and of Healthcare and Life Science Marketing.  At UPMC in Pittsburgh, PA, Andrea was SVP of Communications, responsible for enterprise-wide brand marketing, advertising, clinical marketing and public relations.   Most recently Andrea served as temporary President of a brand consultancy in New York, New York.