Monday, August 13, 2007

Teacher, Teacher

The beginning of school last week has made me think quite a bit about teachers during the past few days. I have several teachers in my family and circle of friends. It has forced me to look at teachers in a much different way than I did while growing up. I now know that they are human, that they put their pants on the same way I do and that they make mistakes, too. When I was a kid, I put my teachers on a pretty high pedestal and had a hard time understanding their flaws. My sixth grade teacher was incredibly grumpy, barked at us all day and picked her nose. I still don’t understand the booger habit, but I now know she had a very dysfunctional family at the time and probably needed to be somewhere other than a classroom filled with 30 rowdy kids. If I had had her family, I would have been crabby too. She wasn’t a very good teacher, but she was the exception. I was fortunate to have many good teachers.

There was Mrs. V. who would feed you crackers and a carton of milk if you happened to miss breakfast. She understood the connection between a good breakfast and good grades long before the Department of Education. Mrs. T. taught fifth grade with a wonderful sense of humor and a hug even for the kids who weren’t the hugging kind. She knew some of us needed more hugs than others. Mr. T. (no relation to Mrs. T. or the man with all the gold chains) ruled with an iron fist but was really creative in the way he taught fourth grade. He had a nifty homemade electronic gizmo that lit up when we got our multiplication tables right, and he brought his boa constrictor to class when we studied reptiles. We also had a moon pie and RC Cola party for meeting some goal, although I can’t remember what it was now. Mr. B. let us listen to the radio in his homeroom AND play paper football if we had our work done. He also overlooked the fact that we girls sometimes read romance novels tucked into our textbook during English class. Mr. M. taught me geometry with the patience of Job. God bless him for dragging me up to a B in his class. Mrs. L. quizzed us on the twelve comma rules every day of my senior year until everyone made an A on the quiz. She said we would need them for the rest of our lives, and she was right. She was also right about that “chewing gum makes you look like a cow chewing cud thing”. Mrs. B. fueled my love for art and music in my early years. She could take books of wallpaper samples and turn them into art projects for months. Mrs. S. made me take her graduate level grammar class in college even though I didn’t want to. She said I needed it, and she was right.

My favorite teachers were all folks who pushed me to excel with a firm hand, a caring heart and a warm smile. I’m grateful for everything they did for me, and while I now understand why weren't perfect, I still put them on a pretty high pedestal..because they belong to be there.

1 comment:

janjanmom said...

I'll never forget being at the Silver Saddle one time dancing my inebriated butt off with an old school buddy and both of us stopping mid-dance to look at our fifth grade teacher doing the same "dance" with her friend. As her eyes met our wide-eyed ones, we were so shocked and dismayed that we had to go have another drink.

She tumbled hard off the pedestal we had built for her. Good thing she was so drunk it probably didn't hurt a bit.

I still think the world of her, she was an awesome teacher who went on to be a fine principal in another county. I think I gave up bars after that night though. I, of course, couldn't really pass judgement on her as I was doing the same. Yet somehow I still did.