Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Teachers - Educators - Role Models

Last night I had a dream where among other things, I ran into some guy who knew my old Middle School Science teacher, Mrs. Andrews.  The dream was weird, as my dreams tend to be, but when I woke up, I couldn't stop thinking about Mrs. Andrews and two other teacher who really impacted me growing up.  It wasn't ever one specific thing or event, or one moment I can pin point.  I just remember them clearly in my mind.  And to be that memorable is a big deal.

So, Mrs. Andrews was my 7th grade Science teacher.  She may have well been my 8th grade science teacher too considering I spent most of my 8th grade science period on her class instead of the one I was suppose to be in.  She was an older woman when she was my teacher.  Nearing retirement for sure - at least to my adolescent mind that's how old she was.  When I think of her, the term "battle axe" immediately springs to mind.  She was grouchy.  Grouchy actually, might be putting it mildly.  I remember clearly she had a bumper sticker on her door that read "Don't tell me what kind of day to have!" and she meant it.  She drank her coffee out of beaker instead of a mug, and there were rumors that some kids had switched her beakers and she didn't even notice, that's how hard core she was.  She also told me once that she almost didn't need to grade my tests, she could always tell just by watching my expressions how many I got right.  She advised me never to play poker, and I never have.  I think she may have been a smoker, because I remember her voice being very low and gravelly.  And I remember loving her as one of my favorite teachers.  Not because she was easy on me, but because the exact opposite.  She expected a lot from me.  She expected me to LEARN.  Not just regurgitate back to her what was in the book, but actually to learn the material.  I remember how excited I was and how satisfied she was, the first time I ever actually connected the labs we were doing to the subject matter we were being tested on.  I checked my old school's website today, and of course, she's not still teaching there.  That was some 25 years ago, she may have already passed away.  But she made an impact.. man did she make an impact.

Then there was my 5th grade teacher Mr. Schiott. He was young and cute to my 5th grade eyes.  He was funny and fair and he laughed.  I remember he laughed a lot.  I also remember me being friends with some C list girls, wanting to be friends with a B list girl, and being courted by the A-list girls.  I remember how torn I felt between these three groups. I was naive in 5th grade, even for a 5th grader.  I didn't really understand why we couldn't all just be friends.  Why did was there all this fighting between the friends I really cared about?  It was.. disruptive.  Mr. Schiott watched the drama unfold in his class room until he'd finally had enough.  He pulled all three clicks into the hallway and me and forced me to choose.  And I did. It was the start of my endless wandering from click to click.  Because really, couldn't we all just be friends?  But honestly though, I think it was because he was so cute that I remember him so clearly.  He's also not still teaching at my old school.  But he was young, so maybe he just moved on.

And finally, let me talk about Mrs. Hughes.  She was my English teacher junior year of high school.  She and I didn't start off on the right foot.  We did a section on poetry.  Now, back in high school, I loved poetry.  I wrote sappy emotional crap like most teenage girls, thinking it was the most deep and profound words ever written.  And being a high school English teacher, Mrs. Hughes put up with it  with more grace than I would have.  No, the content wasn't our issue. She wanted me to make some minor changes to my content, and she wanted me to title it.  TITLE IT.  Can you believe her nerve??  Well, I was very self righteous back then, and there was no way I was going to TITLE my poetry.  It was MY poetry after all right?  A form of personal self expression.  And plus, they were the most profound words ever written right?  So I looked her right in the eye and said "If I change this, this and this, and put a title on it, I may as well put your name to it".  She sent me to the principals office.  I plead my case, and we had a meeting the principal, Mrs. Hughes and myself.  We compromised and I apologized.  Something about that event made her my favorite teacher.  I think because even though I stood my ground, she didn't make this a 'my way or the highway' event.  She actually saw my point in the titling even if it wasn't the best point, or expressed in the best way.  I never titled a single piece of my poetry that year. That year, because I was actually a Junior in a class with all Seniors, on Senior Skip day, we went to get ice cream.  One of the best afternoons of my life.

Who were your favorite teachers growing up?

Seriously.. Thoughts?


  1. this post made me smile as i was in mr schiots class with you and i had mrs andrews in 7th grade and 8th grade!
    i hated, dreaded and despised science with mrs andrews! she was mean,evil and harsh but she is the teacher that i always talk about because she MADE me learn and struggle through things. she always celebrated with me when i had a break through "a-ha moment" and was always like a proud mama when i did well. in 7th grade when we had to learn how to light a bunsen burner i had never lit a match before because i was always scared i was going to burn myself. i got up the courage to tell her that i needed help so she pulled me aside, gave me a book of matches and sat with me while i went through and lit the whole book-in those moments she seemed almost human. somewhere along the way she became my favorite teacher because she was so different and her teaching style was unique and i still remember everything she taught me and i always think of her when i light a match (:
    i will always remember mr schiots dog mandy that he would bring in once in awhile.
    and i fear that i was a mean girl in 5th grade but its all kind of a blur to me know.....

  2. Dena - All those reasons and more were why I loved Mrs. Andrews so much. Battle Axe! And I completely forgot about Mr. Schiot's dog Mandy until you mentioned it. It's amazing what you forget, and what you can remember! I don't remember you being a mean girl to be honest. But then, I generally see the best in people. And you're not mean now, so who cares :) Love you Dena!!!

  3. awwww thanks! i am so glad you wrote this, it really made my night to read about mrs andrews and mr schiot