In elementary school, my second grade teacher, Mrs. Helen Harrod, was a wonderful role model. I knew, on the first day of school, that we would get along well because on that first day, she bonked a little boy who had talked back to her, right on the top of his head with her knuckles which were covered in large rings. Ouch But that little boy was a model of perfection all the rest of the year. Mrs. Harrod let me stay after school and file things in the alphabetical order I was so proud to know how to do.
In middle school, my favorite teacher was Mrs. Roberts. If she had a first name, none of us ever knew it. It was she who showed me the wonder and coolness of memorizing things. To this day, when I especially love a poem, song, even a whole novel, I memorize it. So do my children. Things that are filed away in our heads are never misplaced or destroyed by a power outage or eaten by a dog. Mrs. Roberts knew Helen Keller personally.
High school. Hmmmm. It has to be Mrs. Pat Endris, who taught sophomore English. I never saw her sit down. Ever. She would pace around and around and up and down the aisles, asking questions and admiring our questions and making us stand up and PROVE IT.
But the teacher who inspired me the most, out of all the others, was Dr. Edward Jenkinson, of Indiana University. He is one of the foremost experts on censorship and young adult literature, and finding the science in “A Child’s Garden of Verses,” and he is the reason I majored in children’s and young adult literature. I still quote Dr. Jenkinson, and I bought all of his books and display them proudly.
In more recent years, I have come to know and admire our own Steve Spangler, who is a lot like Dr. Jenkinson in that both gentlemen are firm believers in “bringing it to the supper table,” for when students can’t wait to share their day’s learning, the lesson was a success.
Steve Spangler also taught me that if I blow something up in the classroom, even pronouns will suddenly seem interesting. This philosophy works. Like a genuine lucky charm, this philosophy works.
All of my teachers have made me the kind of teacher I am today. Even the poor teachers had a positive influence, but thanks to those excellent educators who guided me along the path until I could let go and make connections by myself, I am an educated person and becoming more so every day. Nobody is ever educated enough. When we stop learning, we’re as good as dead and we need to be buried. I am so fortunate to have had these good teachers in my life. SO fortunate.
And so are you. Let’s take a moment and whisper a sincere “thank you” to all the Mrs. Harrods and Mrs. Robertses and Mrs. Endrises and Dr. Jenkinsons and Steve Spanglers in our lives.
(KaBOOM!) See? You’re listening now.