Remembering Your Teachers; Remembering You

Mrs. Nudell, kindergarten.

Mrs. Brennen, first grade.

Mrs. Airey, second grade.

Mrs. Mooney, third grade.

Mrs. Torp, fourth grade.

Mrs. Swenson, fifth grade.

Mrs. Long, sixth grade.

These were my elementary school teachers. I may be spelling their names wrong but their memories have lasted for around 50 years. Why do I remember them? Let’s see: Mrs. Brennen pushed me out of line in first grade after sweetly asking me what I was doing standing in the wrong place. Mrs. Long came over to my home to support my parents’ lecture to me after I was caught shoplifting at a neighborhood drug store. It was Mrs. Torp, however, my fourth grade teacher, who left the greatest impression on me. She inspired me to be a teacher. It was because of her firm but sensitive handling of her classroom that I knew, at ten years old, teaching is what I wanted to do.

In my subsequent career as an elementary school teacher, I tried to recall the lessons of my former teachers. Some of their teachings I tried to replicate, some I made sure to avoid. I never pushed anyone. Most of all, I tried to inspire my students to become humane, to challenge their thinking, and to love to learn.

I don’t know if I’ve left a legacy with any of my former students; I hope I have. I realize that the inspiration of teachers in younger grades may be dwarfed by the more recent memories of students’ high school teachers. Yet, I’d like to think that those of us who teach younger students do plant seeds, seeds that grow into healthy plants, thriving because of our early contact.

In a recent article in The New York Times, NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF writes about just such an impact in HOW MRS. GRADY TRANSFORMED OLLY NEAL. Read the article and then follow the links to his blog comments. Teachers have made impacts on many lives, as demonstrated by the memories touched by this article.

Do you recall teachers whose impact on you remains to this day? Have you received feedback from any of your former students commenting on your impact on them? Please let us know your thoughts and experiences.


January 31, 2012. Uncategorized. 1 comment.

The Importance of the School Bus Driver

If you have ever worked in an elementary school, you know that for many students the transition from the bus ride to the classroom can be difficult. The bus is often unsupervised and unsafe. Although the drivers try their best to maintain order on their bus, they are most concerned with driving carefully and getting children to school safe and sound. Because of this unstructured environment, students often get off the bus feeling unsettled and not prepared to learn.

A bus driver named Dennis Stricker has discovered not only how to provide a safe ride, but how to keep his passengers (students) engaged by playing a trivia game with them. Sue Powell, principal at Garlough Elementary in West St. Paul, Minnesota claims, “The students who ride Sticker’s bus arrive at school excited and ready to learn. It sets the tone for the students’ day.”

If all students arrived at school ready to learn like those on Mr. Sticker’s bus, student achievement would certainly rise. While we are constantly looking at new ways to improve student achievement, it might behoove us to take a look at how we might begin the students’ day not when they enter the school, but when they board the bus.

To read the article on how Dennis Sticker helps prepare students for school please go to:

January 1, 2012. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.