I was taught at an early age that teachers were meant to be respected. All through grade school, I had teachers that I felt positive about. I loved school and identified with each of them. In elementary school, I looked up to our music teacher. She was very positive and taught us to be proud of ourselves and our voices.
In Middle School, I enjoyed the variety of changing teachers every hour. Their uniqueness made the day fly by. I remember like it was yesterday, the day that JFK was assassinated. I left the school grounds for lunch. At home, my mom and dad were watching the news broadcasts and I was numb with the news.
When I returned to school after lunch, my next class was Freshman English. Our teacher was very emotional and allowed us to spend our time discussing this tragic event. He shared information he knew about the impact all of these events would have on the country. I respected his insight and his sensitivity as he led our discussion. I had always admired this wise teacher and his handling of this tragedy helped me understand why.
My sophomore year, I had an English teacher that I admired as well. His style was very direct and I felt that he guided my writing in a creative direction. One time, I was struggling with a short story. I was stuck with how to end it. He had me read it to the class and with his guidance, we decided that the story had already ended. He taught me that sometimes less is more.
He also had life discussions with our class about subjects other than English. We discussed relationships and the points he made convinced me that we should never settle. Unfortunately, I didn’t always follow his advice and I grew through experience to understand his point of view.
My senior year in High School, I had a teacher that openly disliked me. I never figured out exactly why. She repeatedly told me that I would never pass Freshman English at UW because I wasn’t good enough. I was convinced that this was true and I didn’t have the courage to prove her wrong until I was forty years old.
As I reflect back on my teachers and their effect on me, I am surprised at the power they held in my life. I was blessed to have great people as my teachers with one or two major exceptions. I now know that teachers can make mistakes too and that makes them human just like the rest of us. I think they have a very difficult and important job.
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