I loved reading the responses to last week’s question, inquiring to everyone what teacher inspired them the most. Being a gal who originally went off to college to become a high school English teacher (yes, the Oh Captain, My Captain scene from Dead Poets Society still puts me into a happy puddle of tears every time I watch it!), and also as someone who can instantly see who does and doesn’t enjoy being a teacher, I wanted to take this chance to pay tribute to a few of those people who influenced us for the better…
“My favorite teacher was Mr. Padilla, my sophomore English teacher. He was a short, round fellow who was overflowing with passion for the written word. He’s the one who taught me about the story behind the story, told through symbolism. It was like a new, magical world opened up for me. He was a huge inspiration.”
“My high school Trigonometry teacher, Mrs. Johnson. I loved math but found Trigonometry difficult. Mrs. Johnson would come by my desk, put her hand on my shoulder, and tell me to keep at it and that one day a light bulb would come on and I’d get it. I don’t know if it was the power of suggestion but she was right … I eventually got it. But that’s only part of why I loved her. She was also a poet and, because she took an interest in me and actually talked to me, she learned that I was interested in writing. So, she encouraged and nurtured that interest. We spent many days, after school, talking about poetry and writing together. She helped me believe that I could do anything … that I could love math as well as poetry … that I could go beyond limits and accomplish anything that I wanted. Simply put, she believed in me so I believed in myself. It’s one of the most important gifts that I have received in life! I don’t know where she’s at … but … Thank You, Mrs. Johnson!”
“Carol Siegel, a professor at Washington State, is the most inspiring human being I have met. She is a lovely mix of brilliant, warm, and incredible kindness. There are few people who I would ever refer to as a role model, but I would aspire to be the kind of person she is. The fact she is a scholar–even better! And I am certainly not the only one to notice. It is always fun to meet others who have had her as a professor along the way and listen to how she has impacted them. In addition, she is a fabulous teacher.”
As for me? I will never forget Mr. Lewis, my Honors English teacher during my junior year in high school, who really challenged me not only as a writer, but as a thinker, and how I saw myself through my words. Emily Dickinson’s The Soul Selects Her Own Society and Much Madness is Divinest Sense were the poems he selected for me to research and present to the class that year, and yes, it was my first intro to Dickinson, and yes, these two poems happened to fit me more perfectly than I ever could have imagined. When you’d walk into class in “the maze” as the area of the building was called, he’d often be there on the piano in an a way that was this combination of energizing and hilarious and awesome because he was purely himself. He loved the written word, he loved what he did (or does, as I hear he’s still a teacher there 23 years after I graduated!, and he inspired us to love it just as much. He had a keen insight about his students and what did and didn’t work in the classroom – so much so that everyone was engaged. Everyone showed up not just physically, but mentally. While I may not have followed in his footsteps, his footsteps still are deeply imprinted in my memory, and for that I am grateful.
OK, ON TO NEXT WEEK’S QUESTION!!!
Now that we’ve shared who has inspired us, let’s talk about what frustrates us (fun fun!). What frustrates you the most in our society – and why? Again, this can be anything from little to big. I know there are probably many things, but pick one that really gets your goat these days and elaborate as to why that bugs you so much. Please leave a comment below, or respond to me via Facebook/ Twitter / LinkedIn, then look for results next week!