June 28, 2008

A Tribute to my Teachers...


Before we all get back to our ranting about Public Education in its' present state, wouldn't it be nice if we could all say thank you to at least one or more of our teachers whose loving gestures would qualify in todays's world as sexual harrassment or corporal punishment and make them eligible for a paid vacation in the Rubber Room?

We all remember those teachers who committed at least one passionate crime of nurturing us with the obscene gesture of a hug, a squeeze of the hand, or a supportive pat on the shoulder. Perhaps they even 'yelled', detained or threatened us in the hopes that we might change for the better.

As a product of the NYC Public Schools of the 70's, I want to take this opportunity to say, "Thank you" to this group of dedicated individuals who've had an incredibly positive impact on my life. They were my public school teachers. In order to protect their anonymity from the likes of 'Kleinberg', OSI and other DOE administrators, I have chosen to refer to them by their first initials only.

Mrs. M, my kindergarten teacher, who played a mean piano, may she rest in peace. Never once did she allow us to put pencil to paper or torture us with "Open Court", thus depriving us of early exposure to the the three R's.

Mrs. B, my 2nd grade teacher who encouraged and applauded my artistic ability even when I couldn't add or subtract to save the life of me.

Mrs. D, who embarrassed me in front of my class by comparing me to my older brother who spent most of his time in the principal's office. The distress and public humiliation she put me through inspired me to want to be a teacher.

Mr. W, my 5th grade teacher, who always punished the whole class for the actions of one student.(Perhaps a lesson in how our actions can affect others?) He spent most of his time shushing us while flirting with Mrs. R outside of our room. The flirting eventually resulted in Mrs. R's divorce and their inevitable marriage. I ran into this beloved man recently and I am happy to report that they are still married!

Mr. D, the most popular and sought after 6th grade teacher. He'd often invite students and their families to his home on weekends and vacations. He made us put our chewed gum in our pocket or on our nose. He taught us the proper way to behave in the halls by making us walk up and down the stairs repeatedly until we either passed out or got it right.

These 'teachers' often raised their voices, used homework as a punishment and made us write, "I will not talk in class." 500 times over. They cared enough to spend their lunch period in the room 'alone with us' so that we couldn't go to recess, called our mothers, used red "x's to correct our papers, and even made us write them over! As a result of their 'ridiculous' demands and expectations, I strived to listen more, write neater and come to school prepared to do work. I walked in a straight line, ate lunch quietly and never talked back to my teacher. I learned that hard work was rewarded with better grades, mistakes made me stronger and respect was something to be earned. The nerve of those teachers for taking the time (which could have been used more productively for 'testing') out of their busy schedules to teach us some valuable lessons about life. Thank you.

1 comment:

Urban School Teacher said...

Mr J.Douglas and Mr G.Coyle- two wonderful, wonderfully enthusiastic gentlemen who taught us well. Thank you!