Friday, October 3, 2008

Another Look Back At The Past

I have thought a lot about the past this week. There have been lots of people who have impacted who I am today - family, friends, colleagues - and teachers. I've especially thought a lot about the teachers who had the most influence on the person and educator I am today. Mrs. Stilley, Mrs. Proctor, Ms. Lack, Mrs. Rogers, Mrs. Jacobs, Mrs. Hedgepath and Mrs. Gobbel stand out among all the rest. Why?

I wasn't the best student, I did well, but I spent an awful lot of time daydreaming, procrastinating and probably not living up to my fullest potential. I wasn't always giving my "best effort". The group of exceptional people above seemed to see something special about this daydreamer, something I certainly didn't see in myself. They encouraged me, nudged me, stretched me, gave me second chances, and even fussed at me if I needed it. Most importantly, though, they never held my shortcomings as a student against me, they never gave up on me. No matter what, they always believed in me, and I KNEW it!

I am very grateful for each and every one of them and I think that they would all be proud of who I've become. My life's work is a part of their legacy. Is there a teacher who helped shape your destiny? What will your legacy say about you?

These are my class pictures from Mrs. Stilley's 3rd Grade and Mrs. Proctor's 5th Grade .
Can you pick out the daydreamer?



Mrs. Lauren Skipper said...

The late Mrs. Linda Williams at Fletcher High School was my inspiration to become a teacher. She made it a point to know each of her students on a personal level. You knew that she cared and she was always looking out for you. I will never forget her. I hope I will forever live in the mind of some of my former students.

Ashley Russell said...

At the ripe old age of 8 years old I decided that I was going to be a teacher. Not just for play, but for real. My inspiration was my third grade teacher Mrs. Karen Ciotti. I was also lucky enough to have her again in 5th grade. Just like you, I KNEW she loved me and believed in me. I contacted her recently just to say hi, not expecting for her to remember me (as I sometimes can't remember the names of students I had just a few years ago). She DID remember me, my parents, what I looked like, my likes and dislikes. I couldn't believe it. I thanked her for being a fabulous teacher and my dad even emailed her telling her the impact she has had on my life and how much he appreciated her. I can only hope that I might have that sort of impact on a student one day. Great post!! :)
Ashley Russell

Eric Blair said...

Oh man, inspirations? Whew, I've had plenty. The most noteworthy is Mr. Hale. He was my precalculus/calculus teacher in high school. He was a brilliant mathematician; he was a rock and roller (played with The McCoys, of "Hang on Sloopy" fame); he was a motivator. I respected the heck out of that man, and hold a lot of his lessons in very high regard. When I left his class, I had a cake made in his honor that said, "You're one HALE of a guy." Yeah, I've always been a fan of the bad pun. He was great because he took the basic principles of math and applied them to the general world. So although I didn't go on to become some sort of great mathematician, I can still apply what he taught me to my life.
I think that's the most important lesson that he taught me. He showed me that lessons are universal and although not everyone can connect with what I'm saying specifically, I can deliver said message in such a way that everyone can apply it. Just as I grew up in the middle of the left and right brain, I try to connect to people on all levels.

Mrs. Nash said...

OK...First, my guesses. The pictures are grainy when enlarged, so it's hard to say...but are you wearing a striped v-neck in the top and pink overalls in the bottom? Just guessing...

I wish I could say that I had one teacher that really did it for me. I don't, though. I had lots of teachers that I loved -- in fact, most of them. Two that stand out, though, are Mrs. Alexander, my 4th grade teacher, who was absolutely wonderful. I don't remember ever NOT loving her. Mrs. Riddle, my replacement 3rd grade teacher after the first moved away mid-year, was amazing. We stood on chairs and sang "We Are the World" into an apple-topped pencil. I remember learning very important things that year, like telephone manners, Indian homes, and dental hygiene. (A far cry from what we are focusing on in the third grade today!)

On the contrary, I remember very well Mrs. Parkins, my fifth grade teacher, who hated me. I, and one other boy, left the classroom one day per week for a special program and she truly seemed to despise us. She was mean and awful and David and I felt truly unliked by her. I still remember the ONLY praise I received from her that year was for using black outlines on my plant diagram. ("How nicely the colors stand out now.")

Perhaps she is my inspiration most of all. I, too, have students that frustrate me to no end -- and some students I have to work very hard to like. Who doesn't at some point? I do remember Mrs. Parkins, though, and it helps me realize how important positives can be for us all. Even for the worst, most challenging students.

...I think I should go give them a hug, right now. My students, that is.

Miss Sharpe and Miss Brown said...

I am guessing you are the girl in the Clemson shirt on the top and I agree with Jenny about the pink overalls on the bottom! ;)

Anyway, I didn't really have a teacher who, at the time, I knew inspired me to be a teacher. I do, however, look back as an adult and remember one teacher that I know put her all into teaching and that was Mrs. Orzesky, my fourth grade teacher at Jacksonville Beach Elementary. As a fourth grader, I did not notice or appreciate the extra time and effort she put into her students (reading to us EVERYDAY during lunch if we chose to stay in class to eat, or staying after school to help us with anything we needed,or reading all of her students writing journals and writing comments in them for us!). I mean, wow, the time and thought that she put into her class was amazing, and very looked over by most of her fourth grade students.
She was actually known as the "tough" teacher, but looking back I think she just made us work our hardest and brought out our best efforts in anything we did.
Anyway, back to present day, she actually came to my first orientation as a teacher two years ago. My mother had contacted her to tell her I was a teacher and Mrs. Orzesky (now retired) still put in her own time to come and support one of her former students. Needless to say, she is an amazing woman and I hope that even if my students don't realize how much I care now, I hope that when they look back, they know how much I care and how I would do anything to help them be the best they can be. :)

Sherrie Anderson said...

I was one of those daydreamers, one of the ones hard to love. I never knew what was going on. Still I remember, Mrs. Scruggs, my first grade teacher. She always had a kind word for me and never seemed displeased with what I did or didn't do for that matter. My mom and I would see her years later at the produce stand. I thought that was so neat that she was part of our lives in our little neighborhood at Holiday Hill Elementary. She will always have a special place in my heart. I remember my third grade teacher, Mrs. Crews - she was mean. I couldn't write in cursive. I could barely print for that matter. She didn't like me and I didn't like her much either. My fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Padgett had the big bee hive hair. I loved her. Still didn't know what was going on in her class. She really loved me all the way through and never gave up on me. Wow!! What memories. Thanks Susan!

Debbie Harbour said...

The one teacher in my life that inspired and helped me was my high school guidance counselor. My parents weren't college educated and really didn't know how to send me that direction either. But my guidance counselor saw potential in me. She directed me to not only honors but AP classes. She was the one who helped me fill out my college forms. She was the one who helped me get scholarships since I did not have any other financial means. I always knew I wanted to teach but if it wasn't for her I would have never been able to find the right road. I was so lucky to have someone who cared that extra bit. Don't ever think you might not make a difference!

Anonymous said...

Wow, I wish that I could say, sure I remember when Mrs. ....

However, the only teacher that I can remember by name and face is Mrs. Smith from Hyde Grove El. She was very much "waiting for retirement", if you know what I mean. I remember her, because she called me out during our rehearsals for our Thankgiving play in the third grade and told me "To get rid of that horrible monotone." Yeah, I'll never forget her. Now, while Kristin has confirmed that I probably should not sing in public, it was probably a "bad" thing for my teacher to say in front of my classmates.

The lack of memory of good teachers was probably also due to the fact that I was EXTREMELY introverted, and no teacher ever tried to unwrap the kid inside. I was actualy quite bright, funny, and engaging if you knew me. My baseball coaches knew me, but never a teacher.

So, to be brief (ha-ha), I am just as much impacted by all of this as others are by good experiences, and I think that I use these experieinces to my advantage each day. I guess it's why I take pleasure in singing, dancing, and acting "weird" in front of our students. So, it all worked out OK. Don't you think Kristin?



Anonymous said...


Love the pink "overhauls"!

Also, glad to see that you grew up with diversity at Conway Elementary. That, no doubt, has impacted your life for the better :-} Love the big dude's pirate shirt (top row middle in the first pic).


Melanie Holtsman said...

When I attended Kindergarten it was a separate school from the big elementary...and I moved in the middle of my kindergarten year. (My dad worked for the government) So.... when I showed up for the first day of first grade I was in my third school. I didn't know anyone and was dressed differently than anyone else. In Virginia everyone dressed up for school and in Illinois it was much more casual.

All of these factors didn't help my introverted personality. I didn't make a peep. Many times I looked up when I was done with my work and bored and would see the teacher smile at me and only me. She was my most favorite person in the world and I wanted to be just like her.

One day she asked me to walk around and help others that had their hand up during math (yes, don't laugh, math) and as I reached across a desk to my classmate to let him count how many fingers I was holding up - I decided I would become a teacher. I never wavered from that day and here I am!

Small moments can change a life. Take the time to make those moments for your students!

Anonymous said...

There are 2 teachers that stand out when I think of my teachers, Spac and D-Train. They were actually my coaches for basketball and without them I honestly don't think I would have made it through high school. D was my 7th grade Math teacher and Spac was my physics teacher but I don't remember them much in the classroom. I remember them pushing me so hard on the basketball court when I was a freshman that I hated them; they made me want to quit; there was a group (we were called the Fab Five) and we all stuck together against them. I remember them making us run stairs and do cone drills to the point we would be sick. I don’t remember when, why or how our relationship changed, but somehow, by the time I was a junior, I knew that they pushed because they cared. They wanted to see us persevere on the court and in life. They were invested in our lives and we became a family. They truly cared about us and we cared about them. We had tons of good times with laughs and bad times with tears. They helped to shape the person I am today and I owe so much to them. Katie S

Brooke Brown said...

I picked out the am I looking at Miller?! :)

I had a few teachers (all elementary) that I still have a special place in my heart for. My kindergarten teacher, Mrs. G (short for Georgopolus...could you imagine a 5/6 year old pronouncing that?! :) ), I still keep in touch with and she was ecstatic to hear my major was Elementary Ed. My mom still gets Christmas cards from her. She recently retired a few years ago. My fourth grade teacher, Miss Lee, was very sweet and gentle, kind with words, yet firm, which gained her respect; the nurturing type. I tend to see myself as that teacher and hope that's what my past students will say of me. She was young and fun and always made every student feel like he/she was the best at everything they did. I also had Mrs. Hulnick. I was fortunate to have her for third and fifth grade. I remember her great fashion sense and how she was always put together. Kids do notice! She was loud and could be a bit intimidating at first if you didn't know her, but she was a mom, so knew when you needed a hug. As long as I can say I made a difference in a child's life (or hopefully several), then I know I have done my job.

Mrs.Lankford & Mrs. Ossi said...

Thank you for helping us all reflect and remember why we do what we do even on those difficult days.

Nina Thomas said...

AFter reading this post I am fondly remembering my 6th and 7th grade teacher, Mrs. Peterson! She was so enthusiastic and she always did neat things with us. One year instead of disecting something dead, she wanted to show us another perspective and we hatched chicks in our classroom! It was so interesting to cradle the eggs, and take care of them just as a mother hen would and then see them when they were born. Mrs. Peterson really inspired me to become a teacher because I wanted to bring that joy to students' lives that she brought to mine. Everyday in her class was an adventure! I went back and saw Mrs. Peterson in Pittsburgh last year when I went up to visit for a wedding and when I saw her she knew right away who I was and she started crying! I told her that I was a teacher now and that she was truly myinspiration for becoming a teacher! It was such a great experience to go back and see her and I think of her often!