Monday, August 19, 2013


School is getting ready to start. Not only here but even across the pond according to some of my blog buddies. Summer with its freedom from discipline and restriction it brings for youngsters, is fading away.  For a lot of parents, the freedom from keeping their kids entertained every day is on the horizon. Ahhh.

I don't know about you but as happy as I was to see Summer and the joys of living in a bathing suit and playing all day, I was just as happy to return to school in the Fall. The new clothes, seeing old friends and making new ones was quite heady for me. But I also loved to learn.  The learning fire that started burning for me in the first grade is still with me today. That is one reason I love my computer. What an amazing learning tool!! 

As the school year picks up again, I tend to think back over my  school years and mostly about those teachers, instructors or professors that influenced my life.  

Occasionally there were those that were in the wrong profession who made learning such a chore. There were teachers that only wanted to be your friend or buddy. To be liked was paramount and popularity trumped knowledge.  I do remember them, but not in a good way. 

Then there were those who could put the most eager minds right to sleep. The monotone speakers, those who merely read to us and explained nothing, the completely unimaginative. I often wondered why they became teachers.  Sadly, some of them successfully  ruined some young minds and turned them off from the joys of learning. 

I was lucky most of the time. I really had some dandies along the way and am very grateful.  But I do have an all time favorite--Mr. Lucas from the 8th grade. 

In the 8th grade, I attended a four room school house in a small, rural community. Each room contained two grades of about 7 to 10 kids per grade with one teacher for both grades. While the 8th grade was being taught, the 7th grade studied and visa versa. Sounds confusing but was actually quite functional. 

Mr. Lucas was also the school principal so if you screwed up, he was right in front of you. None of this being sent to the principals office. We were all ready there. 

He always made each subject interesting. Not necessarily fun but he really knew how to teach, regardless of the subject. When he taught, you understood. He often would not take questions while he was teaching.

 He would say as a hand went up, "Wait till I finish and if you still have questions, I will be happy to answer them." 

The first time I heard that rule, I thought "how arrogant." 

However, he was so thorough and interesting, his lessons were so complete, that all questions were completely answered by the time he finished. If anyone still had a question, which was seldom, he would patiently take however long as was necessary till they understood. 

Each year in Ohio, all 8th grade children took state wide academic tests.  There were only 7 of us in his class that year and 4 of us placed in the top one percent of the state on that test.  We weren't all that smart, he was just that good.

I really regret that I never told that man what a marvelous teacher I thought he was. Pretty sure it is too late for me now. He was about 30 years older than I which would put him over 100 today.  Don't wait too long like I did. 

Do you have a teacher in you life that was a true favorite?? 

Maybe yours was the fun one that made you laugh and enjoy school. Maybe it was one who made you feel special and cared for. Maybe it was the strict one who made you learn. Maybe it was the one who could even make math simple and interesting. Or maybe it was the unique teacher like Mr. Lucas who held a combination of all those traits and that you still remember fondly today.  

Is it too late for you to tell them?  If not, I bet they would love to hear it.  



  1. Lucky you to have had such great teachers. As you brought out, most of it is just plain "luck" of the draw.
    I can't remember any of my grade school teachers. Well, maybe just one and she was a mean witch. In fact, I was recently thinking of the English language and thought that I could not recall learning how to read.

    Thanks for the post. It really makes one think back on their school days.

  2. Mr. Lucas sounds like he had a tremendous impact on your life Patti. What a wonderful post. My favorite teacher was Mr. bane in 9th grade. He made school so interesting!

  3. I remember a high school English teacher who ignited a love of the language and taught me how to write. She was old even then, so I am sure she's gone now. I don't even remember her name, but I remember what she looked like. :-)

  4. My favorite teacher was Mrs. Jennings who taught me several math classes in high school. She made math fun and interesting. I still enjoy numbers and math problems.

  5. I can still remember every single one of my teachers. Some were good, some terrible. But I learned something from each one of them. I must admit I was definitely a challenging student. I questioned everything. Paid for it in kind when my son came along.

  6. One of my more memorable ones was my 12-grade English teacher. He looked just liked Boss Hogg, so much so, he played him in Commercials. In one sense he scared the tar out of me, he was so strict. However, I left his class with a desire to write more and a sense that if I could pass his class, I could do anything.

  7. We moved around a lot (air force brat) and I don't recall a single elementary teacher that I liked...which is sad. High school was even rougher- but I like to pretend that never happened.
    I didn't have great teachers until college, and those are the ones I will always remember.

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  9. Ah---Teachers in my life!!! There were many --but there were also some duds... I had some bad History teachers --and for that reason, I didn't love History UNTIL I was in college. Had a fabulous history teacher then (Mr. Sallis) who lit my fire about history... Sorry I had had all of those bad teachers (many coaches who didn't enjoy it themselves) in high school. NOW--I love History.

    Favorite Teachers: Mrs. McChesney (band director--who is now dead); Mrs. Cox who was a fabulous English teacher. I'm sure there were others --but can't think of them now....

    Great post, Patti. Thanks.

  10. My favorite teachers were in high school and college. They were both known for being strict and not necessarily friendly, yet I felt I was learning so much from them. One was my typing teacher which is probably why keyboarding is pretty easy for me. The other was a literature teacher in college. I remember her explaining poetry and how each word is important and meant intentionally to have significant meaning. That's when I realized it was more than just pretty sounding words. At the end of the year I thanked her for everything she taught me. Then I wrote a letter to the typing teacher to tell her I decided to become a teacher and how much I enjoyed her class and all it gave me beyond typing.

  11. Yes I do, her name was Mrs White. She believed in me and made me feel like I wasn't a waste of space. She went from Mrs White to Miss White. Turned out her husband was beating her up.

  12. I can't say that I had a favorite teacher. My sister and I only finished one year in the same school all of our school years. We moved over 50 times in the first 16 years of my life. School was not easy for me because of all the moves but I did love the first half of 7th grade and all my teachers before we moved and I had to attend another school. I too love learning. Hugs

  13. I do remember most of my teachers. They all challenged me in some ways. I was often the "teacher's pet"-- I know, can you believe it? I worked hard and always tried to do well. I was so happy to be learning. I loved being taught new stuff. As it turns out, it's a trait I never lost.

  14. I tried to remember as I worked as a teacher just how much of an impact a few personal words or a compliment could mean to a child. That is what I remember most about 'favorite' teachers. They Noticed me, they tried to know me.

  15. You are so right about Teachers---and somehow, we remember the really good ones and the really bad ones, too!
    I had a teacher in 7th or 8th grade---she was an English Teacher, and she was WONDERFUL! I had a crush on her---she was the prettiest teacher in the whole school---But she was also very knowledgeable and introduced us to all kinds of marvelous writers---some of them, never to be forgotten. I DID tell her how much her teaching meant to me, and I am so happy I did---I'm sure she is long gone by this time---That was such a long long time ago....That was 1945-46...And, like your beloved teacher she would be well over 100 now---like around 112 or 113!!!

  16. Lovely Post. I am currently enjoying (mostly!!) a little slide show in my imagination of teachers I had nearly 50 years ago. Amongst the good ones there was a quiet, patient man who taught me woodwork, and to appreciate things made with care. There was also an art teacher who was not great at keeping order in the class, but got me started with watercolours. I guess I will always appreciate those adults that treated me as a real person, and talked with me, not just at me, those who made learning an adventure.

  17. I can't remember the name of my favorite teacher, but remember his face. He was my Algebra and Mech Drawing teacher. I was always so full of questions and he taught me how to find answers. Really took time with his students.
    Interesting post.

  18. This was a great post. As a former teacher, I think your point is well taken. Good teachers and bad ones are not forgotten, but they are remembered in very different ways. I do have quite a few good teachers that I remember. My first grade teacher was the one I dearly loved. I made up mind in first grade that I wanted to be like her someday and teach. I was fortunate enough to have her for second grade also. I am so glad she gave me a good and positive start in my educational journey.

  19. Manzi,
    Sorry you had a meanie. Can't remember any meanies but sadly a lot of incompetents.

    So glad you had a Mr. Bane in your life. Some just have it.

    Well then we are also blessed that you had such a teacher. I too have some I can see clearly but have no clue what their names are.

    She had to be special as math is so structured. There are only two ways to do math, right or wrong. I had one who use to hold blackboard competitions that made it fun.

    Now that is funny about your son. He obviously got your inquisitive nature.

    That is a perfect example of how one could not be particularly likable yet still be a good teacher. So glad "Boss" got you interested in writing. It shows.

    We moved a lot also which does make it hard to remember all those teachers. I had a real keeper in college also. My zoology instructor had me starting most out of class sentences with "Maxwell says---" My friends weren't as thrilled with him as I was.

    Those bad teachers are the ones that can really turn off kids. Lucky for you a really good one brought history to life for you. History was always a favorite of mine also.

    I agree, some of my favorites were strict. Not a bad thing in a class room. How neat you actually thanked those teachers. No regrets for you.

    LLCool Joe,
    So glad you had her in your life Joey but how awful she was having to go through such trauma. That she remained a great teacher in spite of her home life is a testament to her talent and heart.

    Yikes, and I thought we moved a lot!! It is amazing you made it through the system at all. I am impressed that you still maintained you love for learning.

    Actually I can believe it. Your obvious hunger to learn, which shows in your blog, would have made you the delight of most teachers.

    Linda Reeder,
    You are so right. And sadly to the contrary, a few unkind or derogatory comments from a teacher could sour a child against learning.

    How neat that you actually got to let her know what an influence she had on you. I wish more kids would do that. Encouragement would help to supplement that low pay teachers must deal with.

    Lucky for us that they both stirred your creative side. You are so right. Personal attention, even if only briefly, really makes a difference.

    I really like how he taught you "how" to find the answers, not just trying to drum the process into you.

    Retired English Teacher,
    I think the first grade often sets the tone for most kids as to how the rest of their education experience goes. Then what luck for you to get her again.

  20. Great post, Patti! My favourite teacher was the teacher who taught me Dutch grammar and literature. I loved the Dutch literature of the beginning of the 20th century, from the seventies till now I only read English books and reread them. The post war literature of both Dutch and English authors are often not my taste: too morbid or philosophical.
    Well Mary Poppins is what I like, My Fair Lady(Pygmalion by G.B. Shaw) and novels from the nineteenth century, I almost like all of them.
    Wil, ABCW Team.

  21. I was greatly influenced and mentored by teachers, which is why I chose to be one myself. Now, I keep tabs on my grandchildren's teachers - young children's minds and spirits are in their care. I think teachers should not only love learning, but also love children (unfortunately, some are jaded and love neither).

  22. My favorite teacher was Mrs. Miller - fifth grade. She was just so NICE that you had to listen to her.

    Sadly, she is no longer with us also, she'd be well over 100 if she were alive.

    thanks for the sweet memory!



  23. What a nice tribute to Mr Lucas. Perhaps he's smiling somewhere !!
    Thanks for the comment about my friend Bud and his TV Ears and yes, I do post on Mondays at UNlimiters. I send them the articles and they post them. I was very annoyed that they didn't post that one until late Tues. and I let them know it. I think consistency is very important when trying to gain an audience. Thanks for the input.

  24. Reader Wil,
    Thanks Wil and I have Mary Poppins on order.

    I think that is how a lot of teachers got started, by great example.
    You are so right. Also some of the school systems and policies have driven some of the really good ones out of the fold.

    Scary when we think our teachers would be past the century mark if still alive. Your Mrs Miller sounds like a winner.

    I will just have to check that site more carefully on my reader. I was mainly just looking on Mondays.

  25. Sorry ...meant to come back and comment on this post.I have had wonderful teachers and those I'd like to forget. From 1st to 6th I developed a love of maths from great teachers ...then I went to senior school and was blessed with Miss Miller ...I had her for 5 years and she had a special way with anything you found hard ...she knew without you telling her ...she never shouted ...except if you clicked your pen ...which every term she reminded you not to do .....she was the best. Then when moving into doing A-level maths (12 and 13 th in your years...or is it college)I had the worst teacher ever. We were in a tiny class (not a popular subject for girls in those days)It should have been perfect but he took an instant dislike to me because I asked questions and was a little slower to take in the advanced maths. He has this way of going on to the next subject as soon as one person understood it...I think I was that peron only twice!!!!By the end of the first year with him I hated maths and wanted to give up as he had convinced me I was a dunce.I stuck with it and when I took the exams I knew I had failed ...well I wrote very little on my paper and sat for an hour or so waiting for the time to be up ...on both point trying as I really didn't know what I was doing did I ??. When the results came out I was so angry ...I got a grade that was between a pass and a fail...max of 5 marks range.... this meant everything I had put on paper must have been correct ...I will never forget this man ....for the wrong reasons. xx

  26. Angie,
    I am so sorry you had such a horrid experience. Those types of teachers, and sadly there are a few, can stifle a persons desire to learn.
    I had one like that in college and it was also math. Luckily in college, I could just drop her miserable course and retake it the next year under a different instructor.
    I am a believer in students evaluating their teachers.

  27. I know exactly what you mean Patti. I remember a lot of my teachers from my younger years. Several of them had a HUGE impact in my life. There is the one that pulled my baby teeth for me so I didn't have to face my dad and his mortal dental floss technique hehehehe, or the one who used very creative ideas for the books we had to read throughout the year and I fell in love with reading, or the literature teacher in high school who would read our anonymous poems out loud. Or the Political Geography teacher I had in high school, who would lecture his classes in sunglasses (we suspected he smoked pot) and would tell us not to be a bunch of stupid idiots (I swear he used those words) and think, but really think critically and refuse to be "receptacles of information." We loved him!!! Or the religion teacher ( I went to a religion based school most of my life) whose tests were debates between students and how youth and sex, drugs, liberty and libertinism fit in our lives. So I guess throughout my school years, I had several teachers who inspired and deeply affected my life.

  28. Introverted Art,
    How true. Teachers occupy such a big portion of our development years. In the early grades, we see more of them than we do our parents. They are hugely important. Sounds like you had some real winners.

  29. Every teacher I had up to,the end of high school left an impression on me when I came to Canada at age 8. Oddly I have only the odd recollection of those in my earlier years . Maybe the change in language played a factor?
    And once I became a teacher I had a lot to learn about being my best for my students. Buddy led the way once he came along and I was able to help more than I realized till years later when my own kids bumped into former students!
    Loved all your observations and you reminded me of a time when I taught a triple grade-2/3/4 and my third class readers topped the provincial scores in reading prompting the area supervisor to call me and congratulate me? Honestly I think the reason they did so well is they had to have excellent work habits to cope in the triple grade setting along side their older or younger siblings. The credit goes to them really for they worked so very well! It was a remarkable work experience that had me doing preps for each subject daily times 3! And the pay was the same! But the kids made it worth every moment! Love them all!

  30. Heidrun Khokhar
    Wow, you had three grades. That had to keep you busy. I agree that it is a good learning environment for kids.