Many of us can look back fondly on a teacher who made a difference in our lives. Maybe it was their enthusiasm, kind words, motivation, or perhaps they even sparked a passion for later career choices. Though I remember liking most teachers, four of had a dramatic impact on my life.
A special relationship is built when an entire class has the same teacher two years in a row; Mrs. Fridley was my 4th & 5th grade teacher. She embraced our creativity, taught us to “think outside the box”, and she had a loft in her classroom which was just the coolest thing ever! I learned early that education often lasts longest when it’s mixed with entertainment, and that independent thinking is usually more important than standardized test scores.
I think it was some sort of fate that 6th & 7th grade English class led me to Mrs. Trede’s classroom. When my dad died between those two school years, she taught me to write. Not essays, but the cathartic process of journaling and poetry. I remember her coming to class one morning dressed as a bag lady, the only thing she had of value was her husband’s wedding ring. The rest of the class told her she needed to hold onto it-the ring would keep him close to her heart. She “broke character” and we both cried when I told her it was ok to sell it and move forward with her life; the memories were all in her heart & mind, not in the ring. Mrs. Trede reminded me that it’s ok to grieve and still live. Years later she celebrated with us at my wedding.
If anyone knows the whereabouts of Mr. Darryl Rotter- please forward his address- I owe a special thank you for standing up for me during a particularly difficult time.
Mr. Eby. Ah…he was the high school “cool teacher.” Liberal. Artsy. Slightly hippy. In our “yuppy town” he teetered on boundaries and instigated (often heated) classroom debates. I learned to speak passionately, but with support and simply emotion. I discovered the type of environment I wanted to teach in after a field trip to Senn High School in Chicago. And, I obviously welcomed many of his “grass-roots” ideas which, in some way, helped in the creation of Favor the Earth.
I know I am fortunate to have so many teachers who made a dramatic difference in my life; not merely through the curriculum lessons, but an impact on my heart.
Most of our favorite educators have probably retired long ago, so looking at your kid’s teachers, which one has made a difference in their life? Contact us or comment on this post. Friday we’ll randomly select a nominated teacher to win a Green School Supply Pack: a “green apple” award!
Daily Green Special: Which teacher do you nominate for making a difference? Why?