WORLD TEACHER'S DAY: THE TEACHER THAT IMPACTED ME THE MOST
Inspired by @bjnovak. Late for the actual "Day" but I love the idea of an ode to Mrs D, my 9th and 12th grade English teacher (1993/4 and 1996/7).
- •We loved and feared her. Actually I mostly feared her, and loved her in hindsight.Mrs D commanded respect. She dressed in skirt suits and always wore red lipstick. She had a huge voice that you could hear across the whole 4th floor. And she would meet you in the doorway and shout at you for forgetting your materials: "DO NOT cross the threshold without bringing your books!" I was terrified of her. But I knew she took her job seriously and she made it clear that it wasn't just a job - she really wanted us to be better students.
- •She saw us for who we were as individuals.I spent most of my time in her class terrified to talk. She loved discussions and debates and I lived in fear of those days when the desks were set up in a circle. But no matter how I avoided her attention, she could see who I was, and communicated that understanding in small ways. She even guessed that my astrological sign is Cancer in class one day.
- •She was the first feminist I ever met.At least the first one who was really open about it where it was recognizable as such. She loved to discuss the role of women in the various texts we read, which was honestly something I never realized was important to analyze or question.
- •She had faith in me.In the fall of my freshman year of college, I stopped in on a visit home to see my old track coach. I ran into Mrs D in the hallway, and the first thing she said to me was, "You got a 5 on your AP exam. I knew you would." I was astonished that 1) she remembered my personal score out of all of us who took the exam, and 2) that she was so confident in me. I think I took a little of that confidence with me that day.
- •She was funny.She wrote a grammar and punctuation manual that I'm only now realizing she must have self-published. I think we even had to pay a small amount for it. The names she used to illustrate her examples were Griselda and Mortimer, which cracked me up. She also once told us that she thought the words "elbow" and "bellybutton" were some of the silliest words ever so now I think of her when I hear them. She didn't let her sense of humor show for a while, so it was sweeter when she did.
- •She forced us to be better writers.Mrs D had such exacting standards for our writing. She would go over it line by line as we worked on drafts of papers and was forever despairing over our comma usage. I used to have my dad stay up late with me perfecting my papers for her class. But I truly, genuinely appreciate her efforts. Her work had a direct impact on my college and professional careers.
- •She showed me the kind of teacher I wanted to be.I strive to respect my students as individuals, to have high standards and expectations, and to show them my funny side. I hope they know they can trust me and count on me, that I take my work seriously, and that I have total faith in them. I do try not to do the shouting bit though. That was scary.
- •*It feels important to note that we never, ever would have called her "Mrs D" in real life. She was so formidable that only her whole name would do. But I'm funny about revealing details on here, which probably isn't necessary but makes me feel better.