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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Teachers, Herding Cats and the Pear Tree

"If you can read this, thank a teacher." ~unknown
"A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops."  ~Henry Brooks Adams

We've all heard these, and many more. And seen the bumper stickers. But how often do we really stop and think about it anymore?

I don't have children, so I can only relate with my four-legged "kids." But if you ever tried to teach them something, you quickly realized that it's not as easy as it looks!

When I think back on all the great teachers I had in my life, I realize how blessed I was. I have friends with children in school and hear about the problems they are having today.  I'd like to think that it wasn't always as HARD to be a teacher as it seems to be now, but because I had a child's perspective at the time, I can't really say.  I am pretty sure red tape and odd legislation and "office politics" were always there to some degree.

Now, I'm no genius (well I don't feel like one and since my IQ is high, I think I don't put as much stock in IQ scores as some do. Regardless of what the scores say, I KNOW how ignorant I can be! Anyone can be born with a "big bucket" and not enough EQ to ever put anything in it) but I do think my teachers did a fantastic job.  I don't specifically remember how spastic we all probably were at each age, but I'd bet it was akin to trying to herd cats.

While I can't really blame my lame fourth grade math teacher (who liked to eat raw onions in class and look up little girls dresses) for my inability to add 2 and 2 and always come up with four, I certainly CAN attribute my love of reading, spelling, grammar, language arts, etc. to the great teachers in my past.  Though that math teacher probably, inadvertently, started me on my lifelong love of communication using analogies.  His father was my social studies and handwriting teacher and was the most lovely man!  After watching The Bad Seed I realized the whole "skips a generation" thing might just apply.  My first analogy. 

It all started with my first grade teacher, Miss H.  I can't really count my kindergarten teacher, though I am sure there was a life lesson somewhere in there. Don't eat paste? She was the wife of the school superintendent and frequently came to class, um, tipsy? But Miss H somehow found the exact combination to my brain and instilled in me a love of reading and literature that remains strong to this day. Too bad she couldn't have implanted some sort of "fantastic writer" gene while she was in there tinkering around. By fifth grade, I was devouring anything written in English I could find.  And along came Mr. W. He was an energy ball, madly in love with literature - practically bounced off the walls, he did! The excitement was contagious and he taught me that no matter how "difficult" some things seemed to read and understand, they really didn't have to be intimidating.  He had the most unique way of cutting right to the heart of things. He took Ye Olde William Shakespeare and broke it down to a phrase I will NEVER forget.  He would be involved in the most serious, dramatic reading of Romeo and Juliet - a performance that would bring you to tears..."wherefore art thou, Romeo?" Seriously, I'd nearly be in tears. Then suddenly, in a totally different voice, he'd make a bullhorn with his hands and shout "I'm over here in a pear tree!!!"  At which point, (after we all quit laughing hysterically) he would explain how to work out the difference in language and figure out that "wherefore art thou" didn't REALLY mean "where are you."  

Then Miss H and Mr. W married EACH OTHER!  I was totally freaked out by that.  Not sure if I just hadn't realized that teachers had personal lives outside school or not, but that did it.  I mean really!  It was right up there with walking in or your parents or something!

As the years passed, more fantastic teachers would build on what we'd already learned. How they put up with some of us, I'll never know.  (Not ME, of course. I was a DREAM student. *giggle*) But whatever recognition they might receive could never really be enough.  

So Mr. and Mrs. Wilcher, Ms. Held, Mr. Waters, Mrs. Kramer, among many others, THANK YOU!!  Thank you for putting up with pittance when you deserved a mint and for "herding cats" without killing us.  Thank you for caring.

Franklin School

Me and Mrs. Kramer - all grown up.


  1. Awwww this made me laugh and cry, all at the same time. And you don't give yourself enough credit, you are a wonderful writer. I'd say those teachers did more than you think.

  2. Just wanted to say how much I enjoy your blog. I think you are a great writer, don't sell yourself short. Thanks for giving me beautiful things to look at and inspiring me.

  3. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along.I'm impressed. You're truly well informed and very intelligent. You wrote something that people could understand and made the subject intriguing for everyone. I'm saving this for future use. Ace tree

  4. As a former teacher, this made me tear up. Thank you for writing this. =)


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