With school winding down, I wanted to give a shout out to all the teachers who have led, set an example, watched over and imparted knowledge and wisdom to the next generation. In my lifetime, I’ve seen the effect of the breakdown of the family on schools and teachers. More and more, teachers are expected to take on the roles and responsibilities that belonged to parents in the days when I was a youth. I applaud those teachers who manage to teach as well as maintain discipline in today’s classrooms. It’s not a job I’d be capable of handling.
When I think of the teachers I had in school, two special ones come to mind. One was Mrs. M, a 7th grade English teacher who probably didn’t reach the five-foot mark in height. But that didn’t stop her from wading into the fray when boys got into fights in the hall. One day, a fight broke out near her classroom and she never hesitated to step into the middle, shove the boys apart and order them to get to class.
Mrs. M was also known to have the nose of a bloodhound when it came to chewing gum. Getting caught with gum in your mouth in her classroom meant an automatic detention. I remember one time when she paced up one aisle and down the next, not saying a word. We kids shot questioning looks at each other, wondering what kind of trouble we were in. Finally, in the back row, she stopped and jabbed her finger into a boy’s shoulder.
“Spit your gum out,” she demanded.
The boy’s eyes got wide as he turned to her. “I’m not chewing any gum. Honest. See?” He opened his mouth for her to check for herself.
Mrs. M studied him a moment. “You’ve got gum somewhere.” At that point, the boy admitted he had a stick of gum in his shirt pocket. “Just make sure it stays there.” We learned there were consequences for behavior from Mrs. M.
The other teacher I remember with great fondness was a high school English teacher. (Hmm. Both were English teachers. Think that has something to do with me being a writer??) Mr. W scared us all on the first day of freshman year when he stood up in front of our class and vehemently declared, “I hate freshmen.” We learned what he really hated was freshman irresponsibility and ignorance. If you acted like an adult, he treated you with the respect of an adult, and by the time we got to be seniors, we were his “darlings.” He was also the drama director. No one ever complained when he called you, “…my dahling.” That was just Mr. W. He indulged us when we found creative ways to recite the poems he’d assigned. When we mangled vocabulary words to get a rise out of him, he simply shook his head in mock frustration. He taught us to appreciate literature–poetry and sonnets and Alice in Wonderland as well as Shakespeare. He taught us to dream, and he taught us about life, and responsibility, and love, and respect.
It takes a great teacher to do all that. Thank you, teachers, for all you do!
Do you have special memories of a teacher? Leave a comment and tell me what you remember most about one of your teachers.