I was feeling nostalgic yesterday morning and I was remembering all of those people who had given of their time to make an impact during my grammar, junior and high school years. Each of the names listed below (and I refer to them as I called them in the classroom, with the appropriate title in front of them) was one of my teachers and these are some snippets that I remember and appreciate about them.
To me, this is my Educational Hall of Fame. After third grade, I was a product of public school education and I lived in a household where English was not a first or second language. For the most part, when it came to my school work, I was on my own (except for math, but my mother did something funky with division that just didn’t make sense so I never asked for help.)
The people on this list were important enough then and are important enough now for me to still remember some of them more than forty years later. Ask your kids which teachers inspire them today and find out why. It will make a difference one day in their lives and it will give you an opportunity, as a parent, to say thank you.
To all those below – thank you for leaving a little piece of yourselves in my head and in my heart.
My Educational Hall of Fame
Miss Pratt – Kindergarten – taught me how to make clay and how to speak English. I peed in my pants at the park when we went on a field trip and she made me a pair of shorts out of a paper bag.
Mrs. Curuth – 1st Grade – taught me how to read. She let me borrow her personal copy of Charlotte’s Web to take home and read when only third graders were allowed to check it out from the library.
Miss Beauttner (later Cox) – 2nd Grade – my first crush. Her sister taught the other section of second grade (Mrs. Armbruster, she too was a nice lady but not as pretty as her sister).
Sister Noreen – 2nd Grade – Prepared us for our First Communion. Actually taught fourth grade but worked with second graders for Catechism classes. She was a nasty, evil, bitter nun. I hope she’s dead and if she’s still alive I hope she’s miserable. She taught me to recognize what I never wanted to be in a human being.
Miss Redicanto – 3rd Grade – taught me nothing but to recognize people who feel out of place – she was a bad girl in a catholic school, the ire of all the nuns (especially Sister Noreen). I loved her although I was in her class but for a short time because we moved to Miami.
Mrs. Blocker – 3rd Grade – made me feel better about moving away from home. Gave me my first detention because I called her out when she misspelled the word “lesson” (leson) on the blackboard (Remember blackboards?).
Mrs. Cole – 4th Grade – taught me to run an old mimeograph machine and let me run errands for her around the school. The first of many times I was a teacher’s pet.
Mrs. Borras – 5th Grade – Favorite grammar school teacher of all time – 2nd Crush. She loved to read and she would lend me books she had read in school. Introduced me to The Wrinkle in Time series (even though I had already read it in second grade.)
Mr. Combs – 6th Grade – Taught me to love math. Good man – he and his wife adopted a baby boy while I was in his class. A girl fainted in our class one day and he said, “give her a hand while I get help” – and I started to clap. He laughed and sent me to the Principal’s office.
Mr. Sturgulewski – 7th Grade – Crazy, erratic and wonderfully engaging. Taught me to love science, lab experiments and La Boehme (he was an avid Opera lover), go figure!
Ms. Clayton – 7th Grade – Beautiful lady – loved Peter Frampton – Taught me the metric system.
Ms. Banks (later Zangroniz) – 7th – 9th Grade – One of the best classroom clowns who actually taught well. Taught me to speak francais avec vous.
Mrs. Fernandez – 8th – 9th Grade – Made me the biggest Math nerd to grace the earth (also taught me how to manually calculate square roots!).
Mrs. Patterson – 9th Grade – Incredibly genuine human being – Challenged me to be a better writer. My sponsor as Editor-in-Chief of the school paper.
Mr. Tosado – 9th Grade – Tough, difficult and at times ornery and rude; however, he was one of best educators to grace my life. First person to call me a writer (JH- we’ve reached a point where I’ve taught you all you are going to learn. Thank God we’re done and that at the end of all this you are a writer. – DT).
Mrs. Sullivan – 10th Grade – Nice, little old lady. Taught me to love Algebra some more. Thought that I was a “challenging person” because I asked too many questions. Looked a lot like the Church Lady from SNL.
Madame Goldenberg – 10th – 12th Grade – Favorite line she taught me: Ce n’est pas la peine de crier, je ne suis pas sourde! (There is no need to yell, I am not deaf!). Wonderful, always happy person who loved everything about the French and France!
Mr. Marley – 10th – 11th Grade – Taught me how to rethink and restate a thought. Then asked me to do it again and again. Made my writing more technical.
Mrs. Ferrer – 11th Grade – prepared me for the verbal part of the SAT. Vocabulary tests should never be this difficult. She taught me to use the word ‘enjoy’ in a totally different vein (she also taught me to enjoy the word ‘vein’ in a different light).
Mr. Randolph – 12th Grade – His name was actually Romeo. Taught me to love Government and to understand the Communism my family had been protesting about all of their lives.
Mrs. Hancock – 12th Grade – Witty, human and real – taught me to love everything about theater. Allowed us to do the Time Warp from Rocky Horror for the Christmas Show.
Mrs. Navarro – 12th Grade – Tough but fair. Her favorite line was ‘Callate, Juan,Callate’ because I always had something to say. I was the Copy Editor of our Yearbook and she edited all of my writing and was never afraid to tell me, ‘do it again.’
Mrs. Duryea – 12th Grade – Taught me to love Chaucer and Shakespeare, but also delivered a great lesson in profanity. First teacher to ever say Mother%^&*# in front of the whole classroom and then proceed to define it.
Do you remember those teachers who inspired you?
If you know a teacher, share this with them today so they are reminded of the impact they make in kids’ lives.