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Posts Tagged ‘best teachers’

I saw a commercial on the TV tonight that made me want to reflect back upon the good teachers I had as a youth (there were quite a few bad ones, too). I’d also like to redeem myself to the teaching community, who often sees homeschoolers as people who hate public school teachers. Not so – we hate the system that teaches to the test, puts children in boxes, and produces the afore-mentioned bad teachers. But I’m not going to talk about them, at least not tonight. Tonight is about the teachers who influenced me.

There was Mrs. Roberts, principle of Sonoma Heights Elementary School. She was my stand-in when my parents did not come for Parent’s Day. She also stood on the playground as a playground guard and fixed my unruly hair for me. I was painfully shy, embarrassed by my parents’ “no show”, and without any words spoken, she told me that I was worth something. I was in Second Grade.

Mrs. Rackley came next, in the order of good teachers. Fourth Grade. New Math. An entire classroom of children so confused as to how math could change overnight from 3rd Grade to 4th Grade, and what the heck were decimals? I was excited to bring my parents to Parent Night, so they could see the picture of quail that I drew. Mrs. Rackley pulled them aside and told them the cruel truth: I lied about being finished in a required subject so I could be excused to draw (but the drawing was excellent).

Mrs. Christianson hovers on the line between the worst and best. She was young, newly wed, childless. We were her first group of 5th graders, and she didn’t quite know how to draw the line. Hence, I peed my panties in class because I wasn’t allowed to raise my hand to be asked to be excused. My parents nearly had her fired, poor woman. After that, however, she often stopped to fix the bobby pins in my hair and to encourage me in my artistic endeavors. Alas, I was absent that last two weeks of school when she discovered that having us pass our workbooks to our friends for grading was a very, very grave mistake.

Mrs. C. gained immortality because of a novel. Trudi started it, and Peggy and I shared in the writing of it. It was all about our adventures with Mrs. C., whom Trudi adored and admired. I don’t know whatever became of the novel.

The best was yet to come: Mrs. Haskell. She could not pronounce “Alfalfa”. She called it “alfa-alfa” much to our range-bred humor. She passed little balls of mercury around the classroom so we could see how it rolled, divided, and regroups. Yes, bare hands. Hey, who knew? And then we read about mercury madness (poisoning) among the early silver miners. But it was what Mrs. Haskell did when she saw me getting teased in the playground that forever etched her in my heart as The Best Teacher Ever.

D.M., a popular boy, made me dump half the Valentine’s cupcakes I had carefully crafted. they landed frosting-side down in the gravel. He laughed. The popular clique laughed. I wanted to cry. Mrs. Haskell cleaned the gravel out of all but one cup cake. When time came to hand them out, she told me what to do with the gravelly cup cake, and I can’t say I didn’t gloat just a little as I set the damaged item on D.M.’s desk. He threw up his arm and called out. “Look what she put on my desk!”

“What’s the matter, D? You dumped it in the gravel. Isn’t that how you like your cupcakes?”

Oh my Lord – if every picked on kid could have a Mrs. Haskell in their life! She was there for me so many times over, never allowing me to back down.

Mrs. Foster came next. The woman who instilled in me a love of history and of writing. I later asked her to write a college recommendation letter for me. I don’t remember her specific classes or anything she said, but only that her stern hand and her direction toward the classics forever left an imprint in my heart and mind. She knew the sordid history of the haunted house I lived in, and could share stories of the construction of it. She had a wicked sense of humor.

And if a substitute teacher can have a spot, Mrs. Elgis. “Eagle Eyes and Elephant Ears” we called her behind her back. She taught some kids’ parents, and some of their grandparents. She was OLD. Ancient. She could hear a note passed when her back was turned and she knew who passed it without ever turning around. If you tried to signal your girlfriend while her back was turned, she’d say, “Put the antennas down girls,” without ever turning to look. When a boy irritated a girl in 5th Grade, I remember Mrs. Elgis looking up and saying, “Loretta, take this book and hit him on the head.”

She had no mercy. She missed nothing. She was an artist who corresponded with me briefly after I moved to another community. She took interest.

I had two wonderful college professors, too, but I no longer remember their names – probably because I was not cut out for college and dropped out after my freshman year. One was an art teacher (Design 102) and the other was my humanities professor who instilled a life-long love of poetry in me (specifically John Donne) and a continuing fascination with classical mythology.

I doubt that I could have been brave enough to homeschool my children without the influence of these teachers, especially Mrs. Foster. I didn’t always like them. But when I think of how they shaped my life – yes. Even Mrs. C. makes the list because she loved the arts, and she encouraged our entire class in the arts. And she was a nice person despite her silly first-year-teacher rules.

Thank you, Public School, Private School, and Homeschool Teachers.

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