Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Three Awesome Teachers

Sherri for Matter of Fact asked that we share a teacher who was significant in our lives. I think I will share my top three.

3. Mrs. Golliet. She did not have a first name. Okay, she probably did, but she was my fifth grade teacher. In fifth grade, a teacher's name is Miss, Mrs., or Mr. While the same holds true in practice in older grades, junior high kids are more curious about these things than younger students. At least that was true in my day.
What made Mrs. Golliet so special? Lots of things. I remember her teaching us about Roanoke Island, Henry the VIII, Native Americans, Vikings...I can still remember her at the board imparting this information to us, and how fascinated I was by History.
Also, she was the teacher I had when I got my first period. While I got it at home (sorry if this is getting TMI boys, you can skip to the next paragraph if you like), I appreciated her little talk with us girls alone where she told us to ask for the red bag if we got a surprise. I did get an unscheduled visit when I was in seventh grade and had a male teacher, and after asking permission to leave to use the washroom, went to Mrs. Golliet's room and asked for the red bag. She was most gracious. That's when I realized teachers don't stop thinking of us as theirs as soon as we leave the classroom, you know what I mean.
Another thing making her special is she is the first person I met with what one might consider a handicap. She had polio as a child, and could not move one arm. I think it was her left arm. She still played the piano, directed our singing the Star Spangled Banner at assemblies, and did so much that her inability to move her arm became unnoticeable after the first week with her. I was afraid I would have to learn not to stare, and she'd hate me if I did, but she was so capable of so many admirable things that my fear proved unfounded. And if I did stare the first week, she was gracious enough to pretend not to notice. Definitely beyond the call of duty.

2. Frau Hildegarde Germaine. She was my German teacher in High School. I took German for four years. I know. I should have taken Spanish, but I had Spanish in Elementary School, and though I wasn't fluent, try convincing a teen ager that she doesn't know everything already. Still, having Hildegarde Germaine for four years was awesome.
She had a sense of humor. I remember her being late for class once, and Stephanie, who I didn't get along with then but later became good friends with, got on my nerves so I hit her on the top of her head with my book. Frau Germaine walked in just then and was like "Helen, I'm so disappointed...". I looked at her, then my book, and started spanking my book, while saying "Bad Book! Very Bad Book!" She and Stephanie both laughed, and I was off the hook. When my own students did stupid stuff when I became a teacher, I tried to remember that there is a place for humor in the classroom.
Also, since I had her for four years, she was aware of when I was me, and when I put up a facade, and would very caringly ask me what was wrong when the facade was up. It was good to know that I couldn't fool everyone. That probably doesn't make much sense. Oh well....

1. Mr. John A. Randazzo. He was my seventh grade teacher. He knew when to laugh at the class clowns, and when to say enough. He knew when to be sensitive to a student who was hurting, and when to say "buck up!" He was very balanced.
In his class, I gained an appreciation for classical music. In his class, I learned that school can be exciting. He had us do science experiments, plays, dances, painting, drawing, singing, games...If we had indoor recess, we played volleyball sitting on our desks using a nerf ball. He integrated history with art and music. Classes flowed into each other instead of being separated into bubbles. I learned from him that learning can be fun. I wanted to do that for children someday, so I became a teacher.
While I don't have his email address, and he has since retired, so I can't contact him at John M. Palmer School, I know he knows the influence he had on me. I did my hundred hours of clinical in his class, and was supported by him once again. While I never was as good of a teacher as him, I know I was a better teacher for being in his classroom. Heck, I was a teacher period because I was once his student.


jasonS said...

I have so many great teachers to be thankful for. My wife is getting her Masters in teaching this year. Teachers are so imprtant and so valuable, way too underappreciated. They won't get the fame or money they deserve, but they are changing lives every day. Hooray for teachers! (and I say that in all seriousness)

sherri said...

This is a wonderful tribute to some great teachers.

Billy Coffey said...

It's amazing the amount of influence teachers have over their students, even years after having them in class. My wife still gets visits from kids she taught ten years ago, and I still talk regularly with my high school composition teacher.

That was a great tribute, Helen.

Mare said...

I do often wonder if incredible teachers ever realize the impact they have on the world! I wish they got more recognition. Way to recognize, Helen! =)

Nick the Geek said...

you didn't list katdish. She taught you how to ... um I can see why you wouldn't give her credit.