Why I love Shakespeare, frog dissections, and the Protestant Reformation: Happy Teacher Appreciation week
If it weren’t for the awesome teachers I had growing up, I wouldn’t have become the awesome teacher I am today *wink wink*. So, in honor of 2012’s Teacher Appreciation Week, I’m going to honor the 10 most influential teachers I ever had:
Kindergarten (Mrs. Nero) – I barely remember this class as that was quite some time ago, but Mrs. Nero was our fifth or sixth teacher within the first few weeks of school. I remember loving her. And I remember seeing her almost a decade later at a grocery store – and she remembered me. That’s a big thing…to be remembered.
3rd grade (Mrs. Schiele) – My family had moved to Germany as my dad was in the Air Force. I spent three years in the American schools there, and while I do remember good times in first and second grade, it was Mrs. Schiele’s third grade classroom that started me thinking about being a teacher. Everything in her class was interactive and enriching. I still have all the Validations we made for each other, and I had my first taste of writing for a real audience in there.
5th grade (Mrs. Estes) – Talk about Teacher of the Millennium…Mrs. Estes filled my fifth grade year with so much goodness that I will never – for the rest of my life – forget her. We had a school bank (and our class made up the “tellers” for the entire school body), we dissected frogs, we held an election (Bush vs. Dukakis – now you know how old I am), and she built classroom community in so many ways. Interestingly, I used many of her techniques in my own high school English classroom so many years later. Now, she’s my friend on Facebook and still teaches me through her wisdom-filled comments and posts.
8th grade Spanish (Mrs. Gilmore) – All I really remember is that she was fabulous and down-to-earth. I ended up staying with Spanish through college, and I’m so glad I did. If it weren’t for Mrs. Gilmore, I don’t know that I would have loved it so much so early.
11th grade English (Mrs. Braddock) – Mrs. Braddock is the reason I teach English today. On the first day of school, she scared the pants off of us, but she taught us so much about writing, literature, and organization. I loved her. I still have my ridiculously huge binder full of the goodness she gave us, and it helped me through college and my first years of teaching senior English. I will admit that I only read the Spark Notes for Tess of the D’urbervilles, but that was the first class I truly WORKED for and enjoyed at the same time.
12th grade AP World History (KT) – I had the privilege of not only being a student in this man’s class but also being his co-worker a few years later. I hated history throughout my high school career (after all, they were all dead – did I really need to know it??), but KT had a way of bringing it to life. Plus, he let us read a book that had a curse word in it (A World Lit Only by Fire)! Then, in my last months of teaching in the face-to-face classroom, he was my retired-teacher-turned-interim-substitute when I went out on maternity leave. I couldn’t think of a better person to have trusted my classroom babies with.
Undergrad Education Classes (Dr. Kasias) – I can’t list one specific year for Dr. K because she was instrumental in the last full two years of my undergraduate career. She scared everyone in her classes, but I respected (and still do) everything she taught us. In the long run, she helped me get my first job and supported me through the first classes I ever taught. Years later, she brought me a student teacher who would become a close friend. I am blessed to know Dr. K.
Undergrad English (Dr. Fuller) – She’s a poet and an awesome person. I learned so much about writing and analyzing poetry while learning what a good writing teacher does in their classroom. She smiled when I swore that the Grecian Urn was really a woman and let me have my crazy notions. To this day, Dr. Fuller is still enriching students’ lives as she leads by example in the writing community.
Undergrad English (Dr. Sinnott) – If ever there was a Shakespearean expert, Dr. Sinnott it would be. I have to admit that there were times I had no idea what she was talking about and would find a way to need something out of my backpack when she was looking for someone to answer, but she also taught me so much about Shakespeare and a love for teaching literature. Dr. Sinnott is also a fabulous person and supporter of the arts. When I started working closely with the local community theater, she was there every time (I’m certain it was just to see me, right? I’ll just keep believing that!).
Graduate English Education (Dr. Staunton) – Dr. Staunton was the professor who made me really THINK about my own teaching and learn to express those thoughts and questions. He was in my classroom that one crazy semester that I taught Spanish, and he supported me through the confusion that was the English-teacher-turned-Spanish-teacher-what-was-I-thinking adventure.
Obviously, I had more teachers than just these 10. I should probably be including the math teachers who didn’t laugh me out of their Honors classes (where I certainly didn’t belong) or the science teachers who gave me a weird love of gross bodily functions.
But, since I don’t have that much time or space, and since I’m pretty sure my readers wouldn’t find it as interesting as I would, I will just say to all teachers out there both veteran and brand new: Thank You. Thank you for caring enough about children and learning to devote your lives to education.