Today, I thought I'd talk some about teachers: those that I've loved, those who have changed my life, and those I've hated. It's a fairly important topic in many ways. Education is what drives our world forward. The newer generations and those who teach them determine the future. Reading, too, originates partly in schools. If reading for fun was given more value in our schools, I think we'd have a far more intelligent population.
Teachers are also a huge part of any child's development and history. We all have teachers who have inspired us, and teachers who have dragged us down. People who don't value education don't understand life. So to be true to my past and to the education system, I figured I'd tell you about some of the teachers I've hated and loved. Those I've loved will be referenced by names, the ones I didn't won't.
Elementary School Teachers
I started school in a regular kindergarten in ABQ, of which I have only vague memories of the teacher. After that, I transferred to this kind of strange home school/regular school duo where we spent half the day being taught at home and the other half in a regular class with kids from first through sixth grades. It was a great setup, although my mom got tired of teaching me real fast. My first grade teacher wasn't my favorite, because she had a loud voice, and it freaked me out. Nonetheless, through her and my mom's guidance, I completed a project that year that led to me wanting to be a writer.
In second grade, I had Miss Shelly, who I liked a lot. I was in her class for second and most of third grade. She was kind and gave me lots of opportunities to work with my natural intelligence to help the other kids and expand my own knowledge.
One of the reasons I liked her so much, which has always been a positive for me with teachers, is that she trusted me to go off and learn on my own. Some teachers are always hanging all over you, and they get annoyed if you get ahead of them and have nothing left to do. I feel like that kind of an attitude punishes those who are just working at a bit higher level. Let kids work at a pace that works for them!
Towards the end of third grade, my family moved, and I started again at a regular elementary school, which was a strange transition. Over the following summer, I was placed in the Gifted and Talented Education program, where I met two of my favorite elementary school teachers, Mrs. McLean and Mrs. Elliot, who both went to the same church as me. They were sweet, very intelligent, and great teachers. More on them later.
Fourth grade, I had Mrs. Hermes, who was hilarious and fantastic with kids. I had other teachers too; in our elementary school, there was a community of teachers that all kind of worked together with students of specific grade levels. But the one I remember was Mrs. Hermes. I liked her a lot. In retrospect, I have a feeling I scared her a little. In fourth grade, my emotional health went down the toilet, and it's been unsteady ever since, although improving. She didn't really know how to deal with that, but otherwise, she was great.
In fifth grade, I had a set of teachers that continued with me into sixth grade as well. Ms. Wiget, who also went to church with me and has kept in touch, and Mrs. Smith were my favorites. Ms. Wiget is a very sweet and smart lady, easy to get along with, and Mrs. Smith is a very professional and put-together teacher who knows how to educate.
In sixth grade GATE, we were split up into groups working on our main interest. For me, of course, it was writing novels. There was another girl, my first writing friend and my long-sense competitor, who had the same interest, so Mrs. Elliot and Mrs. McLean put us in in a group working with this woman who had experience as a publicist for various small agencies. This project ended up being a deciding factor in my career. Within the time of the project, I finished my first two novels, and gained my beginning set of knowledge on publishing. That summer, I began sending out, and it is honestly thanks to those two teachers, who gave me the tools to move forward in my hopes and dreams.
Middle School Teachers
There's this thing that happens in middle school: teachers suddenly decide that they hate you. Teachers who teach middle school almost never actually want to be there. They want to be high school teachers, but they got stuck in middle school instead. So when you come across that rare teacher who actually seems to want to teach your age group, it leaves an impression.
Seventh grade, I remember two teachers as being particularly good. Mr. Terrill was our Life Science teacher, and he had a wicked sense of humor. He also taught well. He gave me my first real interest in biology, which is the only science I actually like. Well, that and psychology.
Then there was Mrs. Sanchez, who retired halfway through the year, but was the funniest, most honest Social Studies teacher ever. She actually taught things besides Social Studies too, which is a huge bonus. You have to love the teachers who will answer your life questions and educate you on all sorts of things, not just their subject. Her replacement was not great. She looked kind of like a shark, and was a bit dull. I think that was the first time I honestly disliked a teacher. I also had a rough time with my Language Arts/Creative Writing teacher that year--she was very disorganized and missed a lot of classes, which led to her, at the end of the semester, telling half the class that they were failing--me included! I ended up getting a C, the worst grade I've ever had in a class.
But kudos must be given to my orchestra teacher, who introduced me to cello in fourth grade and then taught me again in middle school, Ms. Smith-Ecke. She was always a little flustered, but passionate about her work, and I learned a lot from her.
In eighth grade, I had one really good teacher and two bad ones. Mrs. Wingo, my English and Yearbook teacher, stood out to me as my favorite for years afterwards. English being her subject helped a lot on that. She chose good books to read, as well, which other teachers in the past had only done so-so on. The main reason I liked her, though, was the same reason I liked Miss Shelly in second grade. She honestly trusted me to go off and learn on my own. She even looked to me for answers in class when she wasn't sure, and she let me help the others, too. Yes, I'm the type of person who liked being a teacher's pet, haha.
As for the bad teachers? One was our math teacher, new that year, and well-hated by every student who ever had her. There were a good few reasons we didn't like her. She could be cruel. She was famous for sending kids to stand out by the lockers in front of class and listen to the lesson from there if they upset her, and she didn't have the cleanest mouth. But her main issue was that she was just terribly over her head. Middle school students can sense incompetence, and frankly, she wasn't the sharpest nail in the box. She ended up fired at the end of the year.
The other bad teacher, who I genuinely hated, worked with the GATE program. To be fair, me and the others I spent time with there did cause a bit of trouble, but this teacher was honestly a bully, and not just to us.
High School Teachers
In ninth grade, I started high school. I remember a few good teachers from that year. The main one was Ms. Holland, who would continue to be my teacher and a favorite throughout my entire high school career. She taught English, especially poetry, because she was a poet herself. A bit eccentric, terribly honest and blunt, and one of the few teachers who has honestly understood how stubborn I am. Just about everyone loved her, although most people got really tired of poetry after a while. I like poetry, so that was never a problem for me.
On the other hand was our Spanish teacher. To this day, she stands as the vision of truly bad teacherhood in my mind. She had many, many nicknames among those of us who took Spanish, and has always struck a little horror in my heart. She had a temper, and she was pretty darn bad at teaching. In every sentence she spoke, whether it was in Spanish, English, instructions, lesson, whatever, she would pause for us to finish it. Like, how are we supposed to finish your sentences? We're not telepathic.
In eleventh grade, I had some of the same old teachers, but a new English one, Mrs. Batha, who taught AP Lang. She was a good teacher and a good person. A little absentminded, but thorough and brilliant. Then there was Mr. Montano. He taught me NM History in tenth grade, and I disliked him greatly then--but when I had Government with him in eleventh, he turned out to be a brilliant teacher. I'm not sure what the difference was, honestly, but Government had never been interesting to me before, and with Mr. Montano, suddenly, I got it. He had a good sense of humor, he was real, and he knew his stuff. Most of all, Mr. Montano showed me true kindness when I was struggling with my new diagnosis of fibromyalgia. His words were part of the reason I managed to pull myself up and continue with my life, and for that, I'm grateful.
By twelfth grade, my one notable teacher was Ms. Puranananda, who taught AP Lit. I loved her class because we read tons of great books and then spent most our time sitting in a circle talking about them. It's brilliant. All English classes should be like that.
During high school, I also had my first private music teacher that I really loved, Dana Winograd. She's an absolutely brilliant cellist who graduated from Julliard and is kind and friendly to all her students. She knows how to interact with other people better than most people I know and totally understands where a person's limits are. I never really got into playing cello solo until her. I haven't gone to her in a while now, thanks to college, but I'd like to.
In college so far, a teacher I have to say is right up there with Mrs. Wingo was Dr. Keitges. She was my vocal teacher, the first vocal teacher I've liked, and she was fantastic. Absolutely willing to help her students in any situation, and in my case, there were lots of situations. She helped me progress with music, too, of course, and was just generally a lovely lady.
My least favorite teacher was my College Algebra professor, who, like that bad English teacher in seventh grade, told us at the end of the year that only one person had a grade higher than D. She didn't do any review, and had a terrible accent that made it impossible to understand her lessons. I'm not sure how it happened, but somehow, I still wound up with a B.
So that covers the subject of teachers in my life, those I've hated and loved. Soon I'll come to know a bunch more at my new college! Thanks for reading and come back next time for a post on book snobbery--a fun topic indeed.
Who was your favorite teacher in school? Your least favorite?
Images via theeducatedmom.com, funnyjunk.com, giantbomb.com, and IMDB.
I'm an unpublished novelist, primarily of YA fantasy, and a freelance editor. I love psychology, cats, social justice, and love! I'm also a huge fangirl. Basically, stories are my life.
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