As a teacher, I guess I am suppose to remember which teacher is specifically responsible for my decision to teach. That’s how the stories go, right? One particularly hard year, one particularly caring, concerned teacher who reaches me. Unfortunately, you will be dissappointed if that is what you expect in the lines below. I always played school, I loved bossing around my dolls/ stuffed animals/ siblings/ friends/ parents/ pets as I ran the class. I will never forget sitting in the back of my parent’s old Jeep Wagoneer squished next to the gigantic student desk from the 1800’s they scored at a local antique shop one summer. God, I loved that desk.
(My “class” when I was a kid)
While I never intended to become a teacher (it was merely one of many interests) and I still have no intention to stay in the classroom the rest of my life, I do have many teachers to thank for many, many great memories.
Kindergarten: Sister Joyce for being the calmest, sweetest first teacher I could ask for. I will never forget when she took us through the other door of our classroom, which led into the rectory, and into her living room. I don’t know why we took that little visit but she called it a “field trip” and I think she had forgotten something. I also will never forget that we had a station where we made instant jello. I never could make that jello and I believe it foreshadows my poor understanding of science.
Second Grade: Mrs. Murphy for letting us pick her daughter’s name. Now, I am well aware 18 years later that our voting ballot system was rigged and that we did not, in fact, choose her daughter’s name. However, it still is pretty frickin’ awesome that she let us do that. Her name was Catherine. I also must thank her for letting me bring my stinky, loud, crybaby of a sister, Sara, in for Show & Tell. That must’ve been fun for her.
Third Grade: Miss Catterton for being a first year teacher with absolutely no experience and putting up with 36 Catholic school brats. I doubt I learned much that year because we wereawful. I thought about Miss Catterton a lot my first year teaching. Pretty much every time I cried because my students were terrible, I thought back to how we ran that 3rd grade room. Poor lady.
Fifth Grade: Mrs. Daniels for being my first friend in my new, public school. She was the first teacher to read one of my essays as the exemplar to the class. She was also the first teacher to reprimand me. If you must know, I was being disrespectful while receiving my D.A.R.E. award for reading my “I will not do drugs” speech during D.A.R.E. graduation. I couldn’t stop giggling and Mrs. Daniels said it embarrassed her. I melted into a puddle, with my heart stabbed into a million pieces.
I honestly don’t remember much about middle school except that we had bomb threats on nice, sunny spring days and that we read a book called Spermy the Sperm in science. As a matter of fact, I don’t think my book smarts grew much at all during those years. My street smarts sure did, however.
10th Grade French: Mme. Crall for calling my mom to let her know I was a great student and I always did perfect work on a day when I hadn’t done any classwork because she knew I was deeply depressed. Fast forward a few months and a new school later, I’ve met her daughter, Elena, and we’ve become best friends. And I was yet again doing great in French.
10th Grade English: Mrs. Murphey for introducing me to my all-time favorite novel: To Kill A Mockingbird. I’m on my 3rd copy and it forever has a home on my bedside table. Mrs. Murphey also read my essay on the aforementioned book aloud to the class, which generated a mini-celebrity status from my peers for the next week. Thanks to her, I can also recite from memory the paragraph from To Kill A Mockingbird that starts “Maycomb was a tired town, but it was atired old town when I first knew it.” That lady made us deconstruct the entire grammatical structure of that excerpt and then pull it back together into our very own story. She read that story aloud to the class, too. I gave it to my grandma, as it wasn’t about Maycomb, but rather Lake Michigan. This was before we typed everything and I wish I still had a copy.
11th Grade AP Lit: Mrs. Postlethwaite for proving to me that I can read 2500+ pages of literature in one summer, including the underappreciated, Anna Karenina, and the American classic, The Great Gatsby. She is also the first and only English teacher to give me a B. In my first year with Mrs. P, our relationship pendulum would swing from the day she read my Anna Karenina “pop quiz” essay to the class as an exemplar to the day she quietly passed me back a paper raped with red ink, the D+ bleeding through from the other side. We evened it out by 12th grade AP Lit. Because of her, I learned a valuable lesson on humility before I got myself in too much trouble. I was knocked off my high horse. In fact, if she is reading this, she’s probably wishing she had a red pen that worked on the computer screen so that she could circle the 19,142 mistakes I’ve made.
12th Grade Religion: Mr. Kiessling for instilling the ethics, morals, values, and life skills I carry in my knapsack daily. I will never forget glancing over our “syllabus” for class, a simple three-column list of words and terms sans definition. While scanning the document, we overhear him saying “These are the words you will need to know and understand in order to be a functioning adult in society. Without these terms, you are worthless to your future partner.” All I remember is coitus interruptus being smack dab in the center of the list and thinking, “no, this is College Prep 101”. Mr. Keissling also read Dave Barry to us every Friday and spent a week or so reading The Five People You Meet in Heaven to our class while we sat quietly at our desks planning prom and graduation.
Oh, and Mrs. P, I’m still making my way through your list of books to read before we die. You are right. Rebecca is an amazing story and definitely worth reading. Also, Bag of Bones isn’t half bad for being a Stephen King novel, albeit scary as hell. I promise I’ll make it through the list, but The Hunger Games trilogy has derailed me momentarily.
If you could read this, thank your teachers.
*Filed under Personal Life*