Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Remembering teachers....

Have you ever stopped to think about what made your favorite teachers so great? In the past 24 hours I have.

While I remember most of my teachers, there are only a few that really stand out. This isn’t just because I liked them on some instinctive level. These were the teachers that I actually learned from, the ones who made the subjects they were teaching me interesting, the ones whom I can personally thank for my basic grammar and spelling skills.
1st Grade, Mrs. Thatcher – I’m sure I learned a lot from this lady. What I mostly know is that she hugged me – every day. She was kind, she was patient with a very stubborn and willful six year old who didn’t always deserve it, and she never made me feel inadequate. I’ve forgotten a lot of teachers through the years, but her kindness has always stuck with me.

7th Grade English, Mrs. Ragland – What an amazingly fun lady! She reminded me yesterday about Momma Comma, Papa Period, and Baby Semi-colon and I couldn’t help but smile a little. And, while I can’t recall how the songs went, I can use a comma (most of the time correctly), a period, and a semi-colon. She had this way of making any subject interesting, and is the one who helped me realize that putting my thoughts on paper was the best way to rid myself of all the clutter in my head.

The first day in class she handed out a worksheet. There were instructions that I pretty much ignored. I completed the first item, which was to put my name and the date on the worksheet. At item two I hesitated, it was some off the wall request to do something humiliating. I, being the shy type, and my first day in a new school filled with people I didn’t know, wasn’t about to do something so mortifying. So, I continued to read the items on the worksheet and each one was worse than the last. Finally, the last item on the test said to only complete item number one, which I had already done. In the meantime, there were people shouting silly things and walking around the room clucking like chickens.

Back to the instructions for the worksheet – they were, “Read the entire worksheet before you begin.” It was a test to gauge our ability to follow instructions.  Thank goodness I didn’t do something ridiculous.

I also remember that she paddled me once. I don’t remember why, but I’m sure I deserved it.

12th Grade English, Ms. Fulmer – Ms. Fulmer was a no-nonsense kind of gal. She didn’t coddle her students. She had expectations and you met them, or dealt with the consequences. However, she was also fun. She made Shakespeare interesting by making it relatable. She’d pull out all the thees, thous, and thines, and give you the dialogue in modern English so you really grasped the story.

Through 11 years of schooling I never grasped the concept of diagraming sentences, until her. She made it a point to keep every student in her class engaged for the full fifty minutes of her class. She just laughed and shook her head when David P. announced that he was going to be a gynecologist. I believe she loved her job and she loved seeing us learn. I also believe she regarded us each as individuals, respected our self-expression, and saw us as much more than the subjects of her job.

Keyboarding, Mrs. Rose – I don’t recall if it was 10th and 11th grade or 11th and 12th grade that I took her classes. She was not a favorite among students and I never understood this. I, for one, adored her.

This is a woman who kept a closet in her classroom stocked with unusual items. There were, among a few items, lipstick, deodorant, feminine hygiene products, peanut butter to get gum out of your hair, hairbrushes and combs, hairspray, and a multitude of other items you couldn’t even imagine.

She was fond of handouts that had nothing to do with the subjects she taught. In particular, I remember a day she was trying to remember what she did with a handout on STD’s. She walked around the room for ten minutes, scratching her head and muttering, “Sex, Sex, Sex. Now what did I do with that stack of handouts? Sex, sex, sex….”

How could one not love her? J

When on Facebook, I often feel proud in seeing what most of my former classmates post. Most of those that I attended high school with seem to have an above average grasp of spelling and grammar. Most of us can properly use a comma and know the difference between your and you’re. It’s because we had great teachers.

Anyway, my point was just to remember the teachers who go beyond what’s expected and remind them that they did a fabulous job. They put up with a lot and they deserve it.

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