Relationships are often left out of the education reform conversation. Yes big cats like Dewey and Vygotsky have discussed this topic in detail and there are organizations who dedicate their entire mission on relationships such as Big Brother, Big Sister. But when reform hits the committee rooms and department meetings of the world, the conversation often focuses on improving curriculum, teaching and resources.
If you are looking for a role model and an inspirational teacher vignette I highly recommend checking out Rita Pierson's TED talk "Everybody Needs a Champion". Here approach to flipping failure into opportunity and getting at the core of how teaching is building and supporting positive relationships is simply wonderful.