Wednesday, January 11, 2012

teachers remembered...

I've been reading a book this past called Tuesdays With Morrie...and came across this quote.

 A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.
~ Henry Adams

I have thought a lot about the teachers of my past lately.  Seeing the obituaries of some of my favorites in the paper me thinking about what an influence teachers can have in our lives.

I recall with fondness the two years I spent in Mrs. Smith’s class. She made books come alive...and I can still picture her reading The Boxcar Children to the third grade class. She also was a gifted music teacher...and managed to instill a love of music in even those students who had not a musical bone in their body. Then there was my very serious grade six and seven teacher...who came with the name Earnest. He piqued my interest in ancient history and poetry...though I don’t recall having much fun in class. In junior high I had two excellent English teachers. I discovered my love of words...reading them and writing them.

Fast forward to my final year of high school. It was a great year...carefree and a breeze. I had classes and teachers that I enjoyed...and the best of friends to share those days with. My English teacher was also involved in the production of the school newspaper...appropriately called The Tattler. One day as we arrived for class...he told us that we were all to be ‘roving reporters’ during this particular session. Our assignment was to wander about the school, document what we though we were writing an article for the school newspaper. We would be graded on our completed article...which we were to hand in at the end of the class. What’s not to like about an assignment like that? We were free to wander the hallways rather than sit in the classroom. I observed...and I wrote...and I handed in. I had no idea that my article would be in the next edition of the Tattler. On the day the school paper was published...I heard my name called over the school PA system. I was to report to the office of a certain teacher who I knew by reputation only...since he had never been a teacher of mine. I was totally puzzled...since I was not accustomed to being summoned to any office...ever. I went to the prescribed place...and found the teacher holding a copy of the school paper and demanding to know if I was the author of the article he had before him. I had to admit I was. He was absolutely livid...and said I had made him look like an fool.  He demanded an explanation...or was it an apology?  As I had wandered about the school that day...I had observed what I saw or heard from the hallway, but had not actually entered any classrooms, since we were not to disrupt. I can still recall as though it were yesterday...the open doorway at the back of his classroom and the droning voice of the lecturer. All the desks at the back of the room were vacant...and my observation was that Mr. X (that would be him) 'was waxing eloquent before an empty classroom'. And I carried on and noted the fun in Mrs. Pucher’s foods class...the chaos in Mr. Fulford’s French class...and the serious studying happening in the study carrels. I penned my observations...handed in the report...and never gave it a second thought. Until now, that I stood before a teacher who was red-faced...and very angry. I apologized...and explained again what our assignment was...and that I had not meant to make him look bad. Had I really thought he was lecturing to an empty classroom?  Well, no...but that is how it appeared.  Well he would teach me a lesson...and I would spend my lunch hour in his office writing lines on the chalkboard. I humbly did as I was told. I have no idea what the lines were...but I know what that lesson taught me. Do not put your words in writing...they may come back to bite you! Though my English teacher gave me top marks as a roving reporter...the teacher in question squelched all creative writing ambitions I may have had.

Many decades later, I thought of starting a blog. And then I thought of writing lines that day...and wondered if I could actually be brave enough to put my words in print. One day I 'picked up my pen again'...and began to tell stories.  I still think of that teacher who managed to put a stop to my writing for years...but his name and face have faded from my memory. And mostly I recall all those teachers who were such an inspiration to me, and they were many!

Back to the book that prompted this post.  If you have not read 'Tuesdays with Morrie' might want to.  It is the story of one teacher...facing death by Lou Gehrig's disease...and his impact on a student. Though the teacher has now passed...his teaching goes on.  It was of special interest to me...since one of my former classmates is struggling through the final stages of Lou Gehrig's at this very time.  She is in my thoughts and prayers often.

And...for the record...I did not attend the cute one-room school pictured above.  It is a photo from my files...taken near my sister's place in southern Manitoba. 

Have a wonderful weekend.  And...if you have a most memorable teacher you would like to tell us about...I'd love to hear your stories.


  1. Lovely post thanks Judy....and that certainly is a sweet little school

  2. Funny - we were just reminiscing about some of our teachers a few days ago! Sad to hear when ONE makes such a huge negative impact - but I certainly enjoy your writing now, as do many others, I'm sure! I've subscribed to the Kind-Hearted Blogger Pledge, just to let others know I have no intention of hurt, and to remind myself to 'watch my tongue'. Blessings to you in your sharing so freely!

  3. That teacher certainly had no sense of humor did he. I'm sure he didn't realize the impact his anger had on a young impressionable budding writer. Pity. Luckily the good influences utweigh the bad in our lives. You're a lovely writer.

  4. I am glad that you have had the last word on this. If I could remember, I'd tell you the story of a famous author who was thwarted in her writing for years because of a teacher. It works both ways. Oh you can write, my dear. My how you can write!

  5. We have shared many teachers over the years Judy. I can still remember grade one together, grade twelve,and the ones in between So glad that you had the courage to write again, I have enjoyed what you have to say and the pictures you share.

  6. So glad you picked up the pen again! Or started to hit the keys on the keyboard! I had a few teachers that were dear to me. Mrs. Nicklaus in 1st and 2nd grade, and an english teacher in high school Mrs. Sawyer and a team of teachers that taught senior studies. They were teachers that affirmed me instead of beating me down...

  7. What a great post....keep writing! Glad that he did not totally dampen your gift, and that their were others who encouraged you enough to keep you going. I'm going to have to think back on some of my teachers.
    Thanks for the book suggestion.

  8. It's so true - a good teacher can send inspiration, ethics, curiosity, tolerance and many other wonderful things off into the future. A not-so-good teacher can squelch all of the above. Like you, I was taught that anything written down would live forever and that I should be very careful about putting anything in writing - also that 'fools names are like their faces, always seen in public places'. I think that one kept me from stepping forward for too many years.

  9. I read your story with interest. You are a good writer and I find it hard to believe that this particular teaher who called you into the office could not see that and take it with a grin. Obviosuly you had no idea it would be read by him . . . thinking that a class project usually only gets read by that teacher. What a way to spoil your reward.

  10. Judy what a nicely written post...
    Tuesday's with Morrie is probably one of my favorite reads. I thought so much of it's life lessons, everyone got it for Christmas the year I read it. I wanted everyone I loved to read it :-)

    So glad you are blogging!


  11. I'm so glad you turned off your inner qualms and the influence of that one teacher to write your blog. Oh, the effect negative comments can have!

  12. My favorite teacher was my 5th grade nun, she was a wonderful, kind, thoughtful and nurturing woman.

    I have read "Tuesday's with Morrie" and it thought it was wonderful. Have you seen the movie? It's really good too.

    Another good "teacher" book to read is "The Last Lecture" by Randy Pausch. Very inspiring!

    As a teacher myself, I constantly struggle on ways to inspire my inner city middle-school students. It's a daily challenge, and one I love. I have students that live in a car and wealthy students who get dropped off in Lexus - so you can imagine how complicated it can be dealing with that age group. I try to teach them that we are all equal.

    This was a wonderful post! I think you should keep writing! Thank you!


  13. I went to a very large public high school- we had over 700 kids in my graduating class. I took a Chemistry class and our teacher was something else. One day he wanted to demonstrate the affects of dry ice when exposed to water (it turns to a gas). After doing the standard of adding it to a clear beaker and letting it smoke and bubble- he did something not only a bit dangerous, but hilarious. He drank a hot cup of water and then immediately swallowed a small piece of dry ice. Then the rest of the day he burped up smoke. In a room full of teenagers, it was an instant hit. I think that it made the class fun- and when you're having fun, you're more apt to learn something.

  14. I love that story. It shows that some people really do not have a sense of humor.
    I am sure glad....that something inside you make you pick up your pen and write. You sure do it well.

    I'll sure pick up that book. I often have thought about reading it.

  15. great story mom. This is a new one to me :) Though I'm confused as to why ALL your children were accustomed to being sent "called to the office" ...

    I had my first trip there from Miss Riedigers grade 2 class. :)

  16. I haven't read the book, but I've seen the movie by the same title. It was very good. Interesting how teachers can have such a positive or negative effect on their students. My Hubby still remember his third grade teacher who, when she gave him his final report card, told him..."you barely made it." Not a very encouraging remark for sure. And FYI, when you turn 65 in the US, you get a red, white and blue medicare card that forever identifies you as an official Sr. CItizen ! :-) Oh, I'm so glad you were brave enough to start writing again!

  17. What a great can someone squelch the life out of you? I remember some good teachers and some not-so good teachers.
    Now I live with teachers and watch how they try to inspire their classrooms.
    Hats off to all teachers and most of all to you for getting up and trying again. You've done one amazing job of sharing life with your blogging friends and I love your articulations. You are quick at the pen. Keep enjoying!

  18. Lovely post and you live in such a lovley area.

  19. There are many teachers in my family, Judy, so it always warms my heart to know that good teachers change lives for the better.

    It is also true that bad teachers can influence us all our lives. I'm glad that you were able to shake off the bad feelings the angry teacher gave you for your truthful observation. A good reporter, or blogger for that matter, has to know that we can't always please everyone all the time.


'The ornament of a house is the friends who frequent it.'
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson