Thursday, December 07, 2006  


I don't consider myself an incredibly successful person but the reality is that I could have turned out a lot worse. While none of us are perfect, for the most part, I'm happy with both my traits and character. There's no doubt my parents have some influence on that but a lot of the credit must go to my teachers.

Yes, it's cliched but teachers do have a lot of impact on children's lives. Beyond teaching them important stuff, great teachers provide children with a nurturing, safe environment so they can be themselves, grow, and explore. Of all the shepards of the world, teachers have the most important flock.

In my own life, I've had the pleasure to have been taught by some excellent teachers. In this post, I salute my elementary school teachers.

Grades one and two were taught to me by Mrs. Stevenson and Mrs. Weir. Both were quite young and in hindsight much later, both were quite hawt. Oh dear, that's not the right way to put it. Um, they were both very kind and patient teachers. Being the new kid, Mrs. Stevenson really tried hard to ease my way into a new class. By the way, I still know one girl I met from the first day at my new school. Thanks to both teachers for keeping me safe in those formative years.

Mrs. Tanaka was my fourth grade teacher. She had a reputation that preceded her. We started hearing about how awesome she was while we were in third grade. That alone made me want to get the whole school year over with so that I could be in her class.

When the fourth grade arrived, I found out that the hype was well deserved. Mrs. Tanaka ran a wonderful classroom. She was enthusiastic about teaching and was great with her students. The best thing about her was that she worked hard to let everyone be themselves. The environment she provided allowed people to be not afraid of letting their personality shine through.

It was in Mrs. Tanaka's class that I first realized I had a sense of humour that was perhaps a bit sharper than the average student of my age. I don't think I was the class clown. A clown disrupts the class and often draws the ire of the teacher. I did more of the observational comedy stuff. This part I am absolutely not making up. On one report card, Mrs. Tanaka actually wrote that I was pretty good with the "one-liners". If I still have that report card, I will scan and post it. How often does a fourth grade teacher compliment a nine year-old kid on his comedic prowness?

My sixth and seventh grades were taught by a woman named Mrs D. I can't spell her last name because I don't remember the spelling and it was a tough name to get right. My original sixth grade class was huge and it was necessary to split the class into two. It wasn't so big, however, to split it evenly, so only five or six students had to leave the main class.

They were going to stick these overflow students in with the seventh grade class. Now, when you're in elementary school, the seventh graders represent the mightiest of the mighty. They were the oldest students in the school and were either feared, respected or both. Some of them had even entered puberty!

Somehow, they chose the five or six students that they believed had the maturity and skills to cope being in a seventh grade class (even though we'd being doing our own sixth grade work). For some reason, I was chosen to be in that bunch.

It was hella scary at first. All the seventh grade guys seemed have deeper voices and they all had scary peach fuzz hair on their faces. Most of the seventh grade girls wore makeup and they had developed breasts which made my pants tight.

As scary as it was, Mrs. D. made sure the seventh graders never took any liberties with us, sorta like McSorley with Gretzky. Man, one time she unleashed a firestorm of a verbal tirade at some dude that looked at one of us wrong. She was also careful not to make us look like we needed too much protection because that'll get you a shiv in the gut at recess.

On the academic side, Mrs. D. introduced us to some pretty cool books like A Wrinkle in Time. Oh that Charles Wallace! She also let us read radio plays like the classic Flight into Danger. We all got to pick several parts from the play and we'd read the whole production aloud to the class. Here's a bit of trivia, Flight into Danger was the basis for the Airplane! movie. Years before I even knew who Leslie Nielsen was, I was asking one of my classmates if she had either the chicken or the fish.

In the seventh grade, I was also taught by Mrs. D. who seemed quite pleased to have us back as students. Many years later, while I was in undergrad, I heard that Mrs. D had passed away. To this day, she's still the only teacher I know who's not with us anymore.

So, there you have it, the teachers who guided and helped me along the way between 6 and 12. I know none of those teachers will ever get to read this but thanks for being there.

Next, the teachers who helped me along in my most awkward of years, my teens! Stay tuned for D&D goodness!


posted by Erwin | 11:54 PM
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