I can name them…every one from kindergarten through high school. Teachers made ALL the difference in my life.
Miss Peters, my kindergarten teacher, called on me every day during Show N’ Tell – patient with my never-ending stream of feather and rock samples, which reflected my family’s love for camping and the influence of my father, who was a geologist. Thank you, Miss Peters.
Mrs. Hammer, Mrs. Ray, Miss Simpson, Mrs. Halady, and Mrs. Michalisin continued to pave the way. I LOVED school, and never – not once – wished to miss a single day at Rayne Township Elementary.
Mr. O’Malley taught sixth-grade math and believed in pairing concepts with dogged memorization of basic math facts. I eventually took calculus. To this day, those rote arithmetic skills learned in primary school serve me well in the grocery aisles, at my desk and during regular home improvement projects. Although now I couldn’t solve one of my math professor husband’s differential equations to save my life, my everyday practical arithmetic skills leave him in the dust. Thank you, Mr. O’Malley.
My English teachers encouraged my love of literature, language and writing. Thank you, Mr. Wood, for introducing me to Charles Dickens and the mechanics of grammar.
Thank you, Mr. Anslinger, for your unique teaching style and for sharing Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. I can remember my classmates scattered in the woods across the road from Marion Center High School in rural Pennsylvania, bellowing at the top of our lungs:
“This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,
Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight,
Stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic…”
Thank you, Mrs. Poe, for expanding my vocabulary and fanning the flames of creative writing – an avenue for reflection and expression. You gave me a voice.
Thank you, Mrs. Null, for Chaucer, Poe and Robert Louis Stevenson.
Gracias to Mrs. Burkett, who brought energy and enthusiasm to the classroom EVERY day and showed me there were other languages and cultures to be explored.
Thank you to art teacher Mr. Palmer, who didn’t mind being “an odd duck” in the middle of rural western Pennsylvania, where coal and farming were king. To this day I see beauty because of him and have an affinity for artists and their creations.
Thank you to Mr. Petroski, who helped me explore the world of organic chemistry, physics and nuclear science. While I became a writer by profession, science was my first love. A well-written science book or article still draws me like a yellow jacket to a glass of good ol’ southern sweet tea.
Even an elementary school PE teacher saw my athletic ability and used it as a bridge to bring me out of my painfully shy existence. Thank you, Mr. Seanor. Three other PE teacher/coaches picked up the proverbial baton and nurtured my confidence throughout my high school career. Thank you, Coach Caldwell, Coach Cooper and Coach Lowman.
Then there are the librarians who fed me…fed my hunger for adventure, information and laughter and gave me insight into humanity. How can I truly express what they did for me? They showed me windows to the world, and when it was time they showed me the door – the entryway to possibilities…to my future.
While this is not a comprehensive thank you note (I’ve probably failed to mention some fabulous educator), it is an expression of my sincere gratitude to the teaching profession. Teachers had such a profound impact on me. They are load-bearing walls in the slow and steady construction of my life and who I have become.