Did you ever have a teacher who made your young heart sing? Who opened doors you never dreamed existed and showed you new possibilities about who you could be?
I was lucky enough to experience several of those sorts of teachers, in a variety of subjects. As we just marked National Teacher Appreciation Day on May 3rd and are currently in Teacher Appreciation Week, I wanted to give a shout out to these special folks.
To Mrs. Limetone…she was cranky with her room full of wild 5th grade boys but she LOVED books so she had me at “Hello.” She opened the doors in my mind to poetry, making the Jabberwocky with its “frumious Bandersnatch” one of the funniest epics in my young world. Her story hour was magic, particularly during those golden weeks when she read The Phantom Tollbooth.
To Mrs. Westmoreland who started a lifelong love affair with the ocean during a semester of Oceanography. This was back in 1979 and that woman could do a mean Hustle! She was the prettiest teacher I ever had and I remember watching her dance and thinking I wanted to be that glamorous when I grew up.
(Quick break: I thought you might enjoy getting a little 70’s Hustle Love on….the “how-to” link is above if you want to learn the dance and have a disco moment around your house before you finish reading. I’ll confess that I did and Baby Girl thought that was HILARIOUS.)
Okay, enough frivolity…this is a LOVE LETTER. That’s supposed to be serious stuff (at least when other people who are not me do it)…
To Mrs. Mullen who told me I was a great writer and encouraged me to embrace my creativity. She’ll never know that she fired the name-in-lights dreams of this author when she put my reports up on the Superstar Wall with big gold stars on them.
To Miss Riptoe (who mysteriously became Mrs. Chapple one semester break)…she had our middle school class act out scenes from The Lord of the Flies and helped to make that book as profound and spooky as it was supposed to be. Plus, she introduced me to the Brontë sisters.
Mrs. C walked on the cranky side of life, yet somehow encouraged us to try harder to please her. And even she cracked a smile on an especially dour day when the irrepressible Maddox Reese asked her, “Ooooooh, Miss Riptoe, who pooped in your Wheaties this morning?”
Most importantly, thanks to Ronald J. Kuback, may he rest in peace.
- He was crabby, funny, generous, moody, kind and difficult.
- He berated his advanced placement English classes to “Identify, Define, Explain and Clarify. Tell me what you MEAN!”
- He assigned “weird” books like W. Somerset Maugham’s Of Human Bondage and D.H. Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers, then challenged us to tell him what they really meant.
Mr. Kuback was singularly the best teacher I ever had and, more than anyone else in my young life, convinced me that I was a writer.
Here’s to all of my teachers who appreciated the uniqueness of their students, going above and beyond the call of duty to show us who we could be if we just worked hard enough. May all of you that walk the Earth be enjoying a retirement richly blessed with the brightest of life’s gifts.
For Mr. Kuback, my high school luminary who died far too young…all your students know that you’ve been watching over us (likely to make sure we didn’t kill ourselves or use bad grammar). I hope you’ve been vastly entertained by our various methods of carrying on the important lessons you rammed into our teenage brains.
Thank you (all of you) for gifts beyond price.
Do you have teachers and mentors that you remember fondly? (Or not so fondly?) Most people remember someone special, who took an interest in their dreams and helped to achieve them – who was that person for you?
Last but not least, remember that I love hearing from you! To show that love, I launched the Let’s Meet Up (for Training) contest this month. Between now and May 17th, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. Everyone who does not win a spot in the May webinar will be entered in the June webinar. Same thing for July. There are forty-five spots for the taking and I want to see one of them go to everyone who wants one!
Till next time,
I’m not sure I could pick out one or two favorite or inspiring teachers because I feel blessed to have had each and every one of them. I must say some of the crankiest ones taught me the most 🙂
Here, here to all the teachers out there!
Lucky us, huh? And yes, those crabby exteriors nearly always masked the most brilliant, caring minds. Thanks for the comment – I wasn’t sure how the post would go over, but it IS Teacher Appreciation Week after all. Sooo…did you take a moment to get your Hustle Love on?
To Nina Mangano, my AP English teacher, who made symbols, themes and motifs exciting, and pushed us to write better than the assignment before. Some of us would tag along with her to used book sales – she was a fanatic – and she was always buying us extra books and pointing out ones we should read. One time a student said: “I want to name my first child after you!” To which she replied, “No, name your first book after me!” She passed away about 8 yrs ago.
She made sure we were well grounded in Greek and Roman mythology, since it forms the basis for so many literary motifs, and now I still think of her when I read aloud from a Percy Jackson book to my youngest son. Thank you Mrs. Mangano!
Wow, Kathy! Mrs. Mangano rocked! That is such a lovely story about her.
Sooooo, have you named a character after her yet?
I haven’t found the right character yet, but I plan to! Thanks for your post, which gave us all a chance to say “thank you.”
This post was so nice of you – I would like to thank my mom, a teacher for over 40 years now; Mr. Crow, RIP – he turned me to writing; Mrs. Harmon, RIP – she taught me the importance of community service; Mrs. Pagano – pure awesomeness.
I didn’t know your mom was a teacher…it seems to me that is the case with many writers. My dad was a college professor, but not of anything resembling writing. 🙂
I’ve had this letter to Mr. Kuback in me for a long time. It is wonderful to have a forum to finally get it out.
Thanks for your comment!
Thanks to your wonderful example, I posted a “tribute” page on my website. Great idea! And I appreciate the sentiment as I am a teacher myself.
That is AWESOME! I’ll come over and take a peek. 🙂
I am so glad I came across your page, Jenny! We were in Mr. Kuback’s class together and I often tell people that he was by far the most influential teacher I’d ever had. He may have rolled over in his grave when I decided to major in English, but I would never have succeeded in college had it not been for his class. Thank you for posting this lovely tribute.
Malinda, how awesome that you found this post!! You just never know who you’re going to stumble across in this online world. Mr. Kuback was the best. I’m sure he’s smiling down on all of us, now that he doesn’t have to put on the cranky front. 🙂
Hi there Jenny!
This is a great post! I also wrote a letter to my professor, but it was an ACTUAL “love” letter, telling my feelings towards them. I obviously mentioned that I did not want anything to be inappropriate, but my feelings were so unexpected… you know when you get a spark and chemistry, thats what I felt from them. I feel completely bad for giving them the letter, but somehow do not regret it. They understood and said its okay, but I began to worry about their profession and I did of course, think of it before I gave them the letter, but I just needed to tell them my feelings… and the funny thing is that I never felt this professor – student between us, well from my perspective, only two mature individuals, so it seemed natural to me.
Just wanted to share this with you Jenny! My Professor is a great inspiration, and I saw a new light in everything!!!
Also wanted to add, its funny how the world works… how people interact, no matter who you are, what you do… things happen unexpectedly. Its amazing at times! Definitely taking this as a positive route! 🙂