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.

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January 31, 2012. Uncategorized.

One Comment

  1. Jsanders replied:

    I have both good and bad memories of teachers, but there was one teacher in my life who made a huge impact on me. She was my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Brandenberg. I remember meeting her and thinking that she was the prettiest lady I had ever met. She was a tiny woman with big hair, and she was wearing the fanciest high heels I had ever seen. She wore shoes like that every single day, except the day she wore jeans and tennis shoes when we went on a field trip to the zoo. The summer before fifth grade I had moved to the United States from Australia where my Dad had been stationed in the Army. I went to a public school in Australia and had the accent to prove it. The kids at my new school quickly started making fun of the way I spoke. They made me repeat things and then they would mimic me. Then came the day that I found out that a rumor had started that I had a pet kangaroo. (Apparently only really weird kids would have a pet kangaroo). I went to my teacher in tears and told her what was happening. The next day in school our teacher brought in books about Australia and showed our class some of the very cool things about that country. I remember all the kids asking me questions about what it was like to live there. They couldn’t believe that I actually went swimming on Christmas Day because it was so hot, and they really thought it was cool that summers and winters are backwards over there. I told them about all the different animals that I had seen, including the time I was petting a mama kangaroo and she suddenly stood up taller and I could see she had a little Joey in her pouch. I was so proud. I knew that someday I hoped that I could make kids feel good about themselves the same way that she had for me.
    I live in a smaller town and have often run into former students. I love to hear what they are up to these days. They always give me a hug when they see me and there is simply nothing better than that. I like to think that maybe I have a little bit of Mrs. Brandenberg in me.

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