And I also Want to Thank my Teachers, Not All of Them

One of the winners of a minor Academy Award was thanking the people who aided him in his career when, at the end said, “…and I also want to thank my teachers- not all of them!” Isn’t that the truth! Lucky for me, my 2nd grade teacher wasn’t my first. Had that been the other way around I might not have remained in school. Worse yet the 2nd grade teacher stayed on and tormented me all throughout my 3rd year. After that it was a mixed bag- some good, many poor and a few exceptional. Or, was it just me?

What made that teacher so great? What characteristics did he/she possess that you remember so well, that placed them far beyond the others? And did you ever have the chance to thank them?

Sadly and to my shame, I never thanked my top three most excellent teachers. My 8th grade teacher developed dementia and did not fully understand me when I awkwardly attempted to thank her many years after I sat in her classroom. She led me to believe that I was smart enough to succeed in school.  I also missed out on thanking a college professor for her direction as I was floundering in deciding on a new major. She was a giant of a woman, literally as well as figuratively. She stood 6’4″ and captivated her students with her dramatic style and deep love for her subject matter.  I never even thought to thank a high school teacher who challenged me to become a better creative writer. He seemed unapproachable and I never did.

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11 thoughts on “And I also Want to Thank my Teachers, Not All of Them

  1. A Tale of Two Nuns
    I went to a catholic elementary school in Detroit. I admit, I was a very difficult student. I had a teacher who actually told my friends not to listen to me because I thought I knew everything. My friends had taken to contradicting her and quoting me on history. At the time, I was rabid civil war buff…I was 12. I also had intense doubts about religion and it’s place in my life. I read a lot and was beginning to have very disturbing theological discussions with the nuns, so serious in their minds that they made me get counseling from Father Bretz, who from my experience as an altar boy, I learned first hand of the debilitating effects of alcoholism…He was always afflicted with the shakes at 7 am Mass…and when I was the designated pourer for the offertory, he would always grab my hand to make sure I poured enough into his mighty chalice.
    I had another teacher at the same school at the same time. A nun who recognized and encouraged my artistic interests. She opened a lot of doors for me and gave me books on art history. At 12, I learned the basic history of art in the 20th century….
    I was torn between two worlds. On one hand, I was a sort of anti social rebel looking for trouble. I loved pushing Sister Mary Noreen over the edge. She hated my hair, I spent a lot of time trying to get the right punky 1962 greasy look. With her, one day her rage boiled over and she dragged me out into the hallway and began to scream and lost it and started to pound my head into a tile wall. In my brain, I was quite aware that I could just stop it by fighting back, but then there was the little voice in the back of my head telling me that if I hit a nun, I was instantly condemned to eternal hell fire.. She stopped when she realized that she was making a quite a scene and had drawn an audience in the hallway of the school…Well in the final analysis, I have to thank both nuns. Sister Mary Noreen created the monster that probably haunted her worst nightmares. She inspired the final step in my lifelong embrace of atheism. I ran fast, far and I never looked back.
    I will always be grateful to Sister Mary Veronica, for here encouragement of my creativity. She opened the doors and led me on a journey that I am still on. One nun opened doors and the other showed me how to shut them. Thank you Sister Mary Noreen, Thank you Sister Mary Veronica!

    1. Thanks, Microdot. I, too, had nuns for my first 8 years of school. The problem with nuns, I later figured out, is that many did not really want to become nuns but ‘sacrificed’ themselves to Jesus for the sake of ‘enriching’ their families. As a result, they had lots of anger which, according to the nunnery, was not to be exhibited- except of course outside of the convent walls and especially in school. This was the story of my 2nd and 3rd grade teacher! She was a walking timebomb, a sour, angry woman who really had no business being in a classroom of 7-year-olds.

      Further, they really had no idea how to teach, except for modelling their own experiences as a child. Thus, the reflection in their own ‘teaching.’ We generally read around the room. Sadly, a high school student told me this weekend that in their Catholic high school, they often read around the room. In 2014! And parents pay thousands of dollars for that!!

      Whereas you can find some merit in SM Noreen, I cannot say anything about my 2nd & 3rd grade nun! I even shudder at her name! Remarkably, she is still alive!! She must be 99! Why do people with vinegar in their veins seem to outlast other, regular, even sweet other ones?

    1. I was in no mood to read stuff that had not one iota of relevance.

      You could write up a new post (long overdo!) on the topic that does interest you.

  2. I wish that I had the time to sit around and pontificate anf contemplate my
    navel to dutifully write a post. This week I have been involved as a guest at the State AFL-CIO meeting here in Jackson. I was on a panel with the State Democratic Chairman, an attorney working on voting rights, and a labor negotiator. After the meeting the labor attorney asked “where have you been?” ” Why don’t I know you!” “We have needed you!”
    Now, I have been assigned the task of coordinating an AFL-CIO endeavor to attract young Democrat State organizations to attend the Young Democrat Club State meeting here. In addition, I,m working medically with a young 12 year old given up for dead by the doctors and is responding to my naturopathic treatment. So, I’m still out there trying to affect change in an active way and really don’t have time to play your game of appropriate posting.

    BTW, JOB your excellent remarks on labor and VW and GOP politicians
    inspired my presentat ions here at the AFL-CIO meeting. Thanks buddy!

    1. “BTW, JOB your excellent remarks on labor and VW and GOP politicians
      inspired my presentations here at the AFL-CIO meeting. Thanks buddy!”

      Anytime Brother. If you need any help in your coordination efforts, feel free to drop me a line.

  3. Two people made a huge difference in my life.
    The first was Mr. Feeney who was my Freshman geography teacher as well as the diving coach. I remember him talking to the class about sign-ups for the diving team. Mr. Feeney stopped me after class for a private discussion. He asked me if I planned on joining, since Diving season fell between Football and Baseball season’s. I told him I’d like to but couldn’t. He asked me why. I proceeded to tell him that didn’t like taking my shirt off in front of people. I was a chubby kid and at the age of fourteen the mixture of weights and testosterone had not yet taken effect. in fact my self conscience was so bad, that months prior, I spent my first season of football not showering after practices or games. I’ll never forget what Mr. Feeney said to me. He said, “Jon, I don’t want you to do anything you don’t feel comfortable doing. But if you enjoy diving you need to know one thing. If someone has a problem with you, it is their problem to have. You need to like you for you, and not what you think other kids like. Do what makes you happy son, and to hell with any of the kids.” He patted me on the back as I left. He was the first adult that really made me feel good about how I looked, or how I perceived myself to look. I joined the Diving team and must say, it was a blast………………………
    The second was Mrs. Truast. Mrs. Truast became part of my life during the darkest time which was my Mother falling gravely ill. Mrs. Truast was there to help me through my Junior and Senior year. After Mom’s passing I had to stay in the hospital for a little bit. Mrs. Truast came to the hospital five days a week with all my homework. She would stay there for two to three hours a day every day to give me math, science, and history lessons. And she did this all on her own time. My Senior year, I had to enroll in an Alternative Education Program. This was high school from 3:00 P.M. until 8:00 P.M. This was due to the fact that I had to work during the day because I had my own apartment. Mrs. Truast helped me with college enrollment. She even got me accredited with college credits for the Honor’s classes I was taking. Most importantly, she helped me realize that no matter how shitty a situation is, you can still accomplish anything.
    So thank you Mr. Feeney and Mrs. Truast. Not only did you give me an education. You both gave me strength and a better self image.

    1. I would hope, JOB, that both of these fine teachers could read the great things you said about them. There are teachers out there who go the extra mile for students.

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