A French teacher who made the language come alive … a drama teacher standing on his desk proclaiming, “I love you” … the gift of reading through Shakespeare and Harry Potter. All week you’ve been sending in stories of your inspiring teachers.
Here’s another installment:
Let’s start with Meghan Sickmeier on Facebook:
Harriet Dickens-Plimmswood remembers a history teacher who taught her the value of tolerance:
For many of you, a teacher’s colorful personality lit up the classroom.
In the comments section on our post, NPR’s Alice Winkler recalled a literature teacher with a theatrical flair:
“I will forever remember Gentry Lovett, who taught Dramatic Lit at my high school in Montclair, NJ (and not just because his name is so fun to say). The first day of class, this balding, 50-something year old man with glasses LEAPT onto his desk and began to demonstrate how the words ‘I love you,’ written in a script, could be delivered 15 different ways: passionately, coldly, maternally, sarcastically, etc.
“He created the kind of spectacle, with arms and hips waving, that made every bleary-eyed teenager in the room sit up, laugh, and take note: this would not be your normal English course.
“Thirty-five years later, I can’t really remember much about The Scarlet Letter or Crime and Punishment or other high school required reading classics, but ‘Desire Under the Elms,’ ‘The Glass Menagerie,’ ‘Death of a Salesman’ and ‘A Doll’s House’ are still very much alive for me, thanks to Mr. Lovett.”
For Sally K, the originality of her high school French lessons stuck out:
“From the start, my high school French study was not just verb tenses and grammatical structures: I joked that it was ‘Francais et La Vie 101’ (French and Life 101). My teacher, Mr. Herbert, drew a teddy bear with wings on the board to illustrate the French pronunciation of his name – Airbear.
“He taught negatives with Edith Piaf, listening skills with a mystery-intrigue radio drama, and conversation with an invented town we called Compiegne. A former Peace Corps Volunteer in Tunisia, he embodied insight, compassion, deep questioning, and a thoughtful valuation of every person.
“Many years later, I remember best the mood he created in the classroom, a mood of yearning for the knowledge that will unlock doors to understanding and sharing, a sense that every homework assignment or new poem memorized could link us as human beings more deeply; I also remember most of my French.
“Touched to the core by this teacher’s warm, kind, and deeply human example, I am now myself in my third year of Peace Corps service in Ethiopia.”
Some students just need a little push, and a number of you had great teachers to do this.
On Instagram, Marina Laduda shared her struggle to learn English:
“I moved many times between California and Slovakia as a kid. Teachers struggled to keep up with me and students didn’t understand me. I couldn’t read or write well in any language, even though I was fluent in three!
“It wasn’t until 7th grade that my English teacher took the extra time to introduce me properly to a language I have now come to love. He gave me a Harry Potter book and drew out the shape of an essay and told me to write about a lesson I learned from the book each week.
“I wrote two, sometimes three per week. My English improved significantly. Then as a challenge he introduced me to Shakespeare, putting on a school play in which I played Hamlet.
“A few years later I found myself being nominated for an award in acting and writing/blogging for a living. I don’t know where I’d be without Mr. Don Read from Joaquin Moraga Intermediate School.”
Also on Instagram, kniterella described how her daughter went from a reluctant reader to a published author:
“Mrs. Green, she taught my daughter to read. I’m a reader and I started reading to my daughter 72 hours after she was born. My daughter gave Mrs. Green the most difficult time. She would crawl under the desk at school and refuse to read.
“Mrs Green never gave up. Just as I was resolving my daughter wouldn’t share my world of reading something magical happened with her and Mrs Green and she started reading and she hasn’t stopped yet.
“She’s 16 and is currently writing a 4 part book series. Part 1 is epublished on Amazon ‘The Lincoln Spy’ and she’s getting ready to publish part 2. Thank you Mrs Green, you helped me give my lovely daughter the love of reading and opened an endless would for her.”
Keep sending us the stories about your great teachers. We’ll read them and pull some out to share.