Tell us about a teacher who had a real impact on your life, either for the better or the worse. How is your life different today because of him or her?
I remember my first-grade teacher very well. Miss Erickson was pretty and sweet, and now that I’m all grown up, I realize that she was most observant. She got married about halfway through the year, and I don’t remember her married name. She was always Miss Erickson to me.
First grade was such a big deal! I finally, finally got to learn how to read! Kindergarten was a teaser, with letters and numbers but no real reading. I could hardly wait for the first day of school in first grade. I believed I’d come home able to read everything 🙂 Of course it took a bit longer than that, but I do remember being able to read the funny papers pretty early on in the school year.
It was during first grade that my dad took me to the library for the first time. I got my very own library card! I was amazed that I would be allowed to bring books home and keep them for two whole weeks, then bring them back and get another load. It was like a fairy tale to me. Such excitement!
Miss Erickson could see that I was completely bored with reading group, a creation of sheer torture for those of us who caught on quickly and could read the whole book while the other kids were struggling through the first two pages. I was never in the right place when it was my turn to read, although I did try to pay attention whenever they turned a page. And it seemed to me I always got a little short sentence like “Run, Spot, Run!” while everyone else got half a page or more. I hated reading group. I loved to read.
Miss Erickson arranged for me to go to Miss Hoolihan’s class, the second grade, for reading. I was bored there, as well. So they bumped me up to third grade, which didn’t go well with the “big kids” who weren’t thrilled to have a baby first-grader in their room.
Back to first grade. Miss Erickson gave me a special assignment. During reading group, I was to write a “newspaper” for our class! I could write about anything I wanted to, as long as it had to do with other students in the class or the things we were studying. Sh even taught me how to use mimeograph paper so she could make copies for everyone to take home.
I was thrilled to my toes! I finally had something to do that was a challenge, and as long as Miss Erickson knew I could handle whatever reader we were doing, she let me continue. I adored her.
I’ve had many other good teachers through the years. I am especially thankful for those who encouraged me even in my weaker areas, like certain kinds of science. I hated chemistry and physics, but the teacher, a young man in his first couple of years of teaching, was very patient and had a gift for breaking the hard concepts down into pieces that made sense to me. I loved biology, however, and had a teacher there whose humor made the dissecting part fun and interesting.
I love teachers who have a sense of humor. I remember my 9th grade Algebra II teacher, a woman probably close to retirement, who made the process fun and understood that it wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea.
I had some college professors who were real sleepers; others who loved their subjects and enjoyed the students. It matters that a teacher is not just teaching a subject, but that he’s teaching students.
When I was in the eighth grade, there was a period of time when a lower elementary teacher invited anyone who thought of becoming a teacher to come and help her in the classroom. I enjoyed that, and began seriously to think about teaching during that year.
I shouldn’t forget to mention all the teachers in my church experience. Some gifted people taught me about the Bible when I was very little, and I still remember faces vividly. I wish I could remember more names. Again, these teachers showed a love for what they were teaching and a love for the children in their classes.
By the time I was in junior high, I was teaching tiny tots. As the years rolled by, I taught through the elementary grades, junior high and high school, until finally I was teaching women. That is still my first love.
Teachers influence so much of our lives–who we become, what we do. I am thankful for the teachers in my life.