Thanking a teacher (of your past)

As I mentioned in my last post, it is indeed National Teacher Appreciation week.  While I could turn this focus to be all about me, me, me, as a teacher I thought it would be dandy to stop and reflect on a teacher you had that influenced you. 

What was his/her name?  What is one memory (or more) you have of this teacher and how did it affect you? 

PLEASE share with us, oh internets!  That means LEAVE A COMMENT!  I know it would encourage me (see, I am turning it into a ME post) to hear how those of us who play a part in this most rewarding and grueling occupation calling have influenced your life.  You know, I never dreamed that I would be teaching when I still had little folks at home so I find that I need moitivation and wee reminders that this is where I am supposed to be.  And I am ever so grateful that I have found a part time teaching job at a lovely Christian school.  Of course a few perks come along with this job.  (Tuition free, baby!)

My 18 first grade monkeys can personally thank Mrs. Hokstein (can’t recall the exact spelling but we did call her Frankenstein) for me being their teacher.  I am well convinced that my second grade teacher played a humongous part in my desire to be a teacher.  Now don’t start imagining a nuturing, fun, excellent teacher.  She was not.  In fact, she was the clear opposite and I had a dreadful year. 

Oh! This post is supposedly about a teacher you would like to honor or thank.  Why would I thank that mean teacher who told me (and straight to my mom’s face) that I would NEVER make anything of myself – and that she did not enjoy teaching little girls?  (WHO on earth let her in a public school where I am pretty sure in the late 70’s, girls received an equal education????)

Well, that dear confused woman altered my life with absolutely no intentions of doing so. 

As a result of lack of her passion to love and teach the future of America, God was molding my heart of compassion.  As a wee 7 year old (I say wee because I was a little bitty squirt back then) I was determined that even though I was unable to communicate adequately (but I did somehow get my points across), I knew that if a person believed in me (and I in myself) then I would go far and accept God’s calling on my life. 

So I know that my second grade year was a challenging and tear-filled year for a purpose.  To mold me to have a heart of understanding.  To realize at a young age that words can make or break a person.  I fully remember thinking that I would never tell a child he/she would make nothing of himself.  In fact, I am pretty sure that is the point when I knew special education was for me.  For as a child with a severe speech impairment, I knew that it was not what was physically evident that truly mattered – it was the heart.  It is the times of small and maybe seemingly insignificant accomplishments that can change one’s life.  The year following that 2nd grade year, I recall finally being able to stick out my tongue for the first time.  Now I know no other momma would have rejoiced like mine did when her child stuck out her tongue. 

Rejoicing in the smaller achievements.  Isn’t that how God grows us spiritually?  One step, one lesson at a time?

So, I am throwing out a surprise THANK YOU to that 2nd grade teacher of mine in Clear Lake City, Texas.  Thank you, you were key in navigating the course of my life. 

(P.S. – Due to the rough year I had in 2nd grade, I repeated 2nd grade at a new school.  My “second” 2nd grade teacher, Mrs. Nagle, was warm, encouraging, and never let out a peep to a soul that I was a 2nd grader for the second time.  Thank you Mrs. Nagle for accepting me and keeping our little secret.)




  1. sincerelyanna
    Posted May 6, 2008 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

    I’d like to share about my third grade teacher, Ms. Rackl. She collected giraffes and told the class hilarious stories about her cat named Shamrock. I had a cat, too, so I was a big fan of her stories but I was an even bigger fan of her collection of giraffes. I had a t-shirt with a giraffe on it and wore it often in honor of my favorite teacher.

    That year was a hard one for me in math. We were doing long division and I didn’t get it. I was petrified over being called up to the board to solve a problem in front of everyone. I played sick a lot and made every effort to stay home during that period of time just so I wouldn’t embarrass myself in front of 20 teasing third graders.

    Ms. Rackl saw right through my hypochondria and talked to me about it. She offered to help me with math. And she even went as far as offering to pick me up every morning for school. Let me say that again. She offered to PICK ME UP every morning so that I would show up for math class.

    I got long division in no time.

    And I got the blessing of being taught (and reached out to) by a loving teacher that I’ll never forget.

    Now ask me, do I still love stories about cats? Yep. Do I love giraffes? You bet, I have a big picture of one in our kids’ bathroom and don’t you know that I think of Ms. Rackl every time.

    And I can tell you what 520 divided by 72 is. Or at least go up to the board and solve it in front of 20 third graders with no problem.

  2. EJ
    Posted May 8, 2008 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

    My teachers are so long in the past that I had to think long and hard – but remember with great fondness Mrs. Dalby, my Lee Bivins Elementary School music teacher. We had wonderful times in her class singing and using the “rhythm instruments” – as well as learning to play the Tonette. She played the piano as all the school would come into the auditorium for assemblies – and she was a wonderful pianist. I can still see her in my mind’s eye – quite a large lady – playing selections of different types, from classical to our kid songs. Later, in Austin Jr. High, I had her husband as my 7th grade homeroom teacher – we met in one of the shop rooms, as that was what he taught. He taught the 7th grade girls for one 6 week period and we learned to use a coping saw – my project was a rabbit that I painted white with pink and black accents – I was very proud of my first – and last – wood-working!

  3. Mandy
    Posted May 8, 2008 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

    My second grade teacher was the kindest and coolest teacher EVER. Each Friday, she would pick two people from the class to take home Super Pickle (a stuffed cartoon-like pickle) and Augie Doggie (a stuffed dog). You were able to take them home and then report back on Monday about your weekend with whichever one you took home. Augie Doggie smelled of her perfume (I slept with it each time I took it home–what can I say, I was 8 and enamored with my teacher!). To this day, if I ever smell that perfume, I think of Mrs. Clark. She has since passed (about 17 years now), but forever lives in my memory. She was one reason why I chose teaching as my profession.

  4. Posted May 9, 2008 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    I don’t have a teacher that really stands out to me because of the classroom – but my high school calculus teacher was a great single mom who would let us come to her house and watch movies on Friday night. Need I point out I’m not sure what kind of teenagers we were that we went to our Calculus teachers house on Friday night, but I have fond memories of chick flicks and good “girl” time. Strange, yet true. 🙂

  5. Posted May 10, 2008 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

    I have two teachers who had a big impact on my life.

    The first was my first grade teacher, Mrs. Simpson. On the first day of school, we were supposed to copy this thing from the board, something about it being the first day of school. I think she was going to save it for the last day of school, have us do the same thing, and see how much we improved. Well, I didn’t understand, fell behind, and burst into tears. My dear sweet teacher put her arm around me, helped me get caught up, and I have never forgotten that act of compassion. I saw her a few years ago at my sister’s graduation, and have her a big, long hug, and thanked her for having such a big impact on my life.

    Another favorite was my high school spanish teacher, Mrs. Cangi. She was super efficient, fair, and no-nonsense. We HAD to speak only in Spanish in her class, or else we had to stay after school! She was an excellent teacher, and she explained things so well that they seemed easy. I sometimes wished that she taught math, because there might have been hope for me in that subject!

    When I became a teacher, I wanted to combine Mrs. Simpson’s compassion and Mrs. Cangi’s excellent teaching skills.

    May I mention just one more? Mrs. Lollis was my cooperating teacher when I was student teaching. When I first met her, she gave me a big hug, and said that she had been looking forward to meeting me. She was the most wonderful, positive person, and the best part was that she was a Christian too. She was such an encourager, and whenever I had an idea, she thought it was GREAT! (Say “GREAT” with the best Southern drawl you can muster!)

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