Friday, December 27, 2013

Do You Remember Your Teachers?

Do you know her name today?

Remember him?

How many of your teachers do you remember clearly? Can you name them? Are the ones that come to mind first the teachers you loved the most or the ones you disliked? Have you given any thought to what they did or didn't do for you that shaped the person you are today? 

We spent a year, occasionally two, with an indivdual whose job ws to instill information and skills into our head. Then they watched as we moved on to the next level and a new class entered their classroom door with the process beginning all over again. 

The recent death of a classmate who was a part of my grade school years triggered thoughts of the teachers we had in the 9 years he and I and the rest of our class attended Lincoln School. No matter that it was decades and decades ago, I could visualize each teacher so well, could hear their voices as they instructed, scolded and praised the students in their care. Our teachers of long ago deserve a special section in our Family Memories Books. They influenced us in so many ways during that time and since. 

Sub-divide this section into grade school, high school, college, grad school--whatever befits your situation. 

I would start my own section about the grade school teachers by making a list, jotting special notes on each teacher and then later go back and write a fuller account. Something like this:

Grade School

Kindergarten:  Miss Horst, a longtime teacher with prematurely silver hair, perfect makeup and wardrobe. Stern yet loving and beloved by all her students. Erect posture, a commanding voice. She had her students put on a circus for parents each spring.

1st grade:  Miss Curto, a brand new teacher, brunette with long, wavy hair. She taught me how to open a new book, how to care for a book, how to respect a book. And she taught me to read, for which I am ever grateful.

2nd grade:  Miss Vruink, nervous, strict, smacked errant studnts hands with a ruler, slapped my cheek for talking too much. My father came to school and raised cain with her and to the principal. She was gone the next year. The best Valentine experience ever in her class.

3rd grade:  Miss Marshak, tall and slender, long dark hair. Had no control of the class, shrieked at us often, had to take a few weeks off after what was termed "a nervous breakdown" She had great art projects.

4th grade:  Miss Alberts, the teacher everyone hoped to get in the 4th grade. Silver hair, longtime teacher who believed in hands on experience to learn about historical events. We made soap and candles like the pioneers had done. We produced plays bringing history to life. She was patient and kind and greatly loved. Her voice was soft, yet commanding respect. Her love for her students was obvious.

5th-6th grade:  Mr. Biddinger, one of my all-time favorites. The first male teacher in the lower grades in our school. A navy veteran of WWII, had gone to school on the GI Bill to become a teacher. Everyone adored him and the new teaching methods he brought to us. We learned through playing games he devised. Parents worried about that but we learned more with him than any other teacher. We had hamsters in his class, and we learned much about the care and treatment of pets.

7th & 8th grade:  Miss Gentle for English--thin as a stick, harsh voice, little control over the class. Miss Peterson for Library--middle-aged, strict but fair, married during our 7th grade year and became Mrs. Peterson, married a man with her same name! Miss Stange, who suddenly became Mrs. Dussias in her fifties. She taught Social Studies with an iron fist. Rarely smiled, all business but a good teacher. Miss Smith, the math teacher who had a way of being strict while the same time friendly and helpful and a fine teacher of all math-related things. Mr. Fengel, the music teacher, who was a funny little man who ended up marrying Miss Gentle at the end of our 7th grade year. So, in 8th grade we had both Mr. Fengel and Mrs. Fengel. Josephine Costanza was the girls gym teacher who barked at us constantly. She, too, married and became Mrs. Walker during our 8th grade. Maidie Johnson, the Home Ed teacher was elderly and had severe arthritis. Her pain made her one crabby old lady. 

Each of those men and women hold a place in my memory bank. I know now what they did for me and that they are a large part of who I am today. So, yes, they deserve a place in my Memory Book. 

Start your list like mine above to spark some inspiration to write further, then write a more detailed account of each teacher to include in your Memory Book. 


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