Sunday, May 16, 2010

Teachers Who Made a Difference


Kathleen Parker, a Washington Post columnist, and recent Pulitzer Prize winner -- way to go, Kathleen -- attributed some of her success to a special teacher she had in high school.

In her column on April 15h, she told the story of Mr. Gasque, her high school English teacher. Kathleen had been called on in class and did not know the answer to the question, but whatever she said made the class erupt in laughter. Mr. Gasque whirled from the blackboard. "No perfectly executed pirouette can top the spin executed by Mr. Gasque that day." she wrote. "Suddenly facing the class, he flushed crimson and his voice trembled with rage. 'Don't. You. Ever. Laugh. At her. Again,' he said. 'She can out-write every one of you any day of the week.'"

Kathleen continued her column by writing, "It is not possible to describe my gratitude. Time suspended and I dangled languorously from a fluff of cloud while my colleagues drowned in stunned silence. I dangle even now, like those silly participles I eventually got to know."

What a wonderful moment, and anyone who has been touched by a special teacher knows that feeling.

In her column, Kathleen encouraged readers to think about those special teachers that touched our lives, and maybe pay them homage.

So I want to thank Mrs. Henderson, my third-grade teacher who introduced me to the joy of books and reading.

I also want to thank myseventh-grade teacher, Mrs. Carpenter, for entering my story in the Scholastic Writing Awards contest. I didn't know she had done that until I was notified that I won an award.

And I want to thank Sister Honora, my high school English and journalism teacher who also encouraged me to write and keep on writing.

It's possible that I could have ended up where I am now - a voracious reader and a published author - without their influence, but I highly doubt it.

What about you? What teachers do you remember who made a difference for you?

8 comments:

Ken Weene said...

Strangely, it was a negative experience with a teacher that really effected me. I had written one of those what I did over the vacation pieces. In it I had described the moon as white gold. He insisted that the moon was silver and that I change the wording - even took off points for it. I realized that while he may know more about English than I (then fourteen) I was a writer and he was not.
To know that I was a writer didn't change much then; but now that I have two novels published and many poems and short stories, I can safely say he changed my self-concept and my eventual life.

Anj said...

I had two high school teachers who were both so influential in different ways that I can not choose between them.

Mrs. Rosemary Lucky was the best English teacher I ever had, and she is the reason I am so attentive to grammar and punctuation. She also taught me to do library research, bibliographic citations, etc. so well that by the time I got to college, research papers were a cheerful walk in the park.

Mr. Greg Hartel was a fantastic environmental education (biology) teacher. Whenever possible, in lieu of a classroom lecture, he got us outside into the field, where we collected our own plant specimens and even did a grasshopper population study by capturing, tagging, and releasing grasshoppers in an empty lot near the school. I remember more from his interactive, experiential approach than from similar classes in college. He taught me to observe the tiny details in the world around me.

Helen Ginger said...

I remember a teacher in college, Dr. Stedman. He was an English teacher and he encouraged my writing. I ended up working as his assistant and learned a lot about writing and editing from him.

Helen
Straight From Hel

covnitkepr1 said...

Sad to say and I'm serious...I can't remember the name of even one of my teachers.
I’ve enjoyed looking over your blog. I came across it through another blog I follow, and I’m glad I did. I am now a follower of yours as well. Feel free to look over my blog and perhaps become one as well.

Terry Odell said...

Junior High -- Mr. Jacobson & Mr. Webster for showing me that things I loved--like nature--were actual school subjects.

High School - Mr. Holtby who still stands over my shoulder as I write, reminding me of those basic grammar rules, and especially his "SWYM" comments on papers -- Say What You Mean.

Maryann Miller said...

Ken, your story reminds me of what happened to my granddaughter when an art teacher told her there were no blue bunnies, so she had to do her picture over. Her mother framed the blue bunny and it is hanging in her office. "Don't destroy creativity" is our motto.

Lloyd said...

I can not think of any school teacher that had a real influence on my...I had several I liked and some I didn't like so well. Anyways, just wanted to say I enjoyed reading the posts on your blog. God bless, Lloyd

Maryann Miller said...

Appreciate all the comments. It is so nice that some of us have had such memorable teachers, but I do feel a little sad that some didn't.