Monday, May 11, 2009
Okay, so I'm a little late but National Teacher Appreciation Week was last week. It slipped by at my school, largely unnoticed but for a note written on the whiteboard in the staff room. Since it was also a full moon last week, the one emotion I was definitely *not feeling* was appreciation!
I was one of those geeks who loved school. LOVED it. And those annual tests (in our state, the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills), well, I loved them, too. Maybe that's why I'm so intrigued by all the research I do for my books. And there were many many teachers along the way that if I had the chance today, I'd send them a note of appreciation for instilling that love of learning.
First there was Sister Davida in first grade who taught me to read. I must have been four when I started pestering my parents. "When am *I* going to be able to read?" From the first time I could open that first grade reader and those funny spots became words, I was hooked.
And then there was Sister Loretta in sixth grade, who was also the librarian. I realize now that one book lover had recognized another and that's why she had me working in the school library and always let me check out the new books first.
Mony Vega, my high school Spanish teacher, remains a favorite. Mostly because of the rapport he had with the kids, but he must have taught me something, too because when I'm in Mexico, after a number of margaritas, I become quite fluent in the language :)
There were others. Mrs. Petersen in high school social studies--I've always loved history. Bubbles Watson in English (I'm sure she had a first name but high school students are jerks, remember?) She introduced us to George Carlin in semantics class by playing that bit of his on the seven dirty words. And Father Geary, in psychology, who whetted my appetite for delving into the motivation of my characters. (He was also my introduction to the phrase, 'Father What-a-Waste' :)
To these and all the other teachers who shaped my education, I offer a thank you.
But, wait. Appreciation week wouldn't be complete without also tendering a few apologies. To Sister Marcellita in eighth grade, for whatever it was that used to make her embark on hour long tirades about the sins of the flesh and Jezebels. It appeared to us that we were merely hanging up our coats in the coat room, but apparently 'sins of the flesh' prosper in those shadowy confines, especially if a boy and a girl have to hang up their coat at the same time. To Sister I offer a line of hallway lockers for every boy and girl in her class.
For Father Hilsman in ninth grade religion, who walked out on our class because in our boredom we collected jewelry from everyone in the back of the room and held a silent auction during his lecture. To Father I offer my black pearl ring with my humblest apologies.
It was Father Salz in tenth grade Geometry. Shy and stammering, it was almost cruel to subject him to a bunch of high schoolers whose favorite trick was to open the windows and pull the blinds. And then one by one go out the window when he turned his back to the chalkboard. Child proof window locks are my gift of apology to Father.
And to Father McLean, who threatened to cancel senior week because we put Saran-Wrap on the toilets, whipped cream in the blow dryers and had a water fight in the hall outside the cafeteria I offer only a piece of advice: don't threaten something unless you can really follow through on it.
What about you? Who are the teachers who shaped you, for good or bad, during your school years? Who would you most like to thank now? Or maybe there's someone you'd rather have arrested :) Any teacher you'd like to offer an apology to? Now's your chance!