Thursday, May 10, 2007

Da Count-Teacher Appreciation

Charles tagged me... And since I am so bad at following meme rules I'm twisting the tag and using it as the basis for this week's Da Count.

What was the name of the teacher that was most influential in your life from grades K through 6?
I've read a few of these that sort of lingered on some of the awful teachers. It may have been last week or this week, I don't know....but it's around the time for Teacher Appreciation Week so I'll chose the one who had a positive influence.

Second grade was a year of bests and worsts. It was the worst because my parents had just divorced and I was reeling from the hurt and confusion and struggling desperately to make sense of the chaos around me. I had to change schools too. I hated not knowing anyone on that first day of school, when everyone else already had friends in the class and my best friend was far away in another school.

It was the best because I was in Mrs. C's class. She always smiled warmly when we came in. She made us mind her but I don't think she ever yelled. She sometimes let us have class outside when the weather was nice. In the Spring her husband came and showed us how to make kites out of trash bags, dowel rods, and tape. We had a ball flying them all afternoon. She was the first teacher who let me pace myself too. She didn't reprimand me for working ahead the way my last 2 teachers had. She actually asked me what I wanted to do with my spare time when I got my regular work done early and she gave me all sorts of choices. She even recommended I be tested for the gifted program. I don't remember if it was her suggestion or my idea first but one thing I wound up occupying myself with was writing. Sometimes it was stories, other times it was poems. Sometimes she'd give me something to read and suggest I write something similar, other times she'd have me do my own thing.

I was more or less oblivious to my classmates, wanting to be included but way too fragile at that point to reach out and risk rejection. I wrote and drew endlessly in her class. My family was a common theme. I didn't write about how it really was, but I wrote how I wanted it to be. I can remember making a whole book. Each page was dedicated to a different family member and what made them special. I can remember starting each page with, 'This is MY father, mother, grandmother, uncle, etc.' and stapling all the pages together, as if somehow the affirmation of their role along with the staples would magically bind together the fractured relationships and make everything all better. It didn't change the facts of existence but it did soothe and comfort me. I carried around my 'book' like it was a treasure map, a precious thing to be guarded at all cost and only shared with those who had gained my utmost confidence.

I'd run into Mrs. C in the hallways for the rest of my elementary school years, occasionally I'd see her out in public when I was in high school, and she'd always ask me if I was still writing beautiful stories. Even years later, when I was married and had children and was reeling from newly broken dreams after leaving Trinidad under really awful circumstances, I ran into her in the store. I hadn't seen her in 10 years and the same old question came back to me, 'Do you still write beautiful stories?' I blushed and said, 'Not so much, the kids keep me pretty busy.' She gently responded, 'You should, you were good and it was good for you.' I thought, 'What on earth makes her call them beautiful? I was a brokenhearted 6 year old. She was a nurturing teacher who saw through a lot of unhappiness to find something good way back then but what makes her think I'd have any shred of talent or put out anything worthwhile all these years later?' I hugged her and saw the same kindness in her eyes, heard the same sincerity in her voice as I had when I was 6. For a long time I put aside her exhortation but it kept echoing. Eventually, I gave in and put pen to paper again. I will say, whether or not it's worthwhile reading to others, it is indeed good for me.

Thank you, Mrs. C. for nurturing those of us who so desperately needed it.

Did you argue with teachers? (I saw this question on another meme somewhere else)
Is the sky blue? In Junior high and High school my teachers either loved me or hated me. There was not a lot of middle ground. I was such a pain in the rump, I loved catching them in mistakes and then nailing them. My senior year I had Economics with Mr. J. I had zero interest in that subject and let it be known. Mr. J. was unfazed. The homework load was not terribly burdensome on the surface, but class time was quite different than any other class I'd had. There was the standard lecture from him but he'd often pause to allow us to react. There were any number of students who would choose to disagree with him and he usually pulled their arguments apart easily but not in an overly harsh manner. A lot just kept their noses in their notebooks hoping he'd not see them.

Being the argumentative kid I was, I made it my personal mission to argue him into an inescapable corner. Over the course of the year we had several rounds and he defeated me handily. I was undaunted in my pursuit of victory. Part of my motivation was wanting to see him twist in the wind, squirm when I'd caught him. The day finally came when he introduced a topic and I knew I could defend my side. I'd spent a lot of time thinking about how I could deliver the death knell if he took us in this direction. I was giddy. The pause came and I let loose. We struggled back and forth and a few classmates seemed to sense Mr. J's imminent defeat. The moment came when it was clear he had no adequate response to my points and he knew it. Sweet victory was mine! I waited for his pained expression and pathetic attempts to cover his embarrassment. It did not come. He merely stepped back, smiled sincerely, bowed to me slightly and said, 'Excellent arguments, well presented, Miss Lime. Very nicely done.'

I was stunned. This was not the reaction I expected. It made me stop and think for a moment...'Ooooooh....that's what he wanted all along...He didn't care who won the argument. He wanted his students to think. Well, that's a novel concept. Not many of the others seem to care if we think. It tends to piss them off if we do much more than regurgitate. This guy respects the ones who think. Wow! And dontcha know, the stinker got me to actually study a subject I hate just so I could best him. He's gooood, really good!'

Thank you, Mr J. for making us think and respecting us when we do.

What subject did you favor in high school?
I took 4 years of French and 2 years of Spanish concurrently and loved every minute of both of them. I had excellent teachers for the subjects I enjoyed most. In fact, my high school's foreign language department was much better than the one at college. Not that I remember much...

Did you attend a university and if so, did you attain a degree?
Yep, B.S. Ed, special education.

Do you learn best through books, by watching, or hands-on?
Hhhmm, depends on what I am trying to learn.

Has education been an ongoing process for you?
Formal education, no. I am always learning something new though and I don't plan to ever stop.

What seven people are you tagging to do this?
You, in the blue shirt.
You, eating while reading this.
You, with the birthday this month.
You, with a strange skill for picking things up with your toes.
You, with the green eyes
You, with the unusual affection for latte.
You, blogging nekkid.


G-Man said...

Limey, I fit 3 of your tags..Can you guess which ones?
What a terrific memory you have....great job!

barman said...

That is awesome and I think you may have hit me in there somewhere.

I love it, especially about Mr J. I had a class once in college and they expected you to think. Normally if you regurgitated everything back to them you passed with flying colors. I tried that on my first test AND FAILED. Try as I might I did not do much better on the next test. I think I managed to crawl out of the Poly Sci/Philosophy course with a C, barely. It was far from my favorite course but I still remember it and wish more classes were like that. I think I actually learned more than I knew in that class.

Your kids are JUST like you, aren't they. Some one put a curse on you for sure. :)

TorAa said...

Hi, in between meetings, I'll comment on the wonderful teacher C, you did have during a difficult time of your life. I agree, it's so stimulating having teachers that understand and inspire. I did make small wierd newspapers, that were sent around in the classroom, very popular among my classmates, but not with most teachers, as the readers did not notice them. Until one day, one of the teachers found out it was better to read it loadly so everybody had it at the same time...

have to run....

have a wonderful weekend

.. I'm still without internet in our summerhome:(

cathy said...

Your tags are first class and oh so lime! How could anyone not love that twist of lime mind

MONA said...

these are just wonderful memories. I think that is a brillant tribute to both your teachers.They indeed sound great because you make them sound great!

logo™ said...

Loved this.
Yay for good teachers!

Charles said...

Way to answer the tag! Very inspiring, and although I realized it previously I will mention it now, that being the contrast between how women answer and men. Women tend to do a lot of words, men are pretty terse. It'll be interesting to see Dan's, and his alter-ego lulu's responses. Isn't it great to remember the good teachers? I'd have told of some of the good ones, but it asked for the most influential K-6. I really did have some good ones. Most of them were good, unfortunately I tend to remember the ones who changed my personality.
BTW. I won't be repeating this meme soon, even though you chose to tag me thrice more, like g-man.

S said...

Looks down
No blue shirt...whew!
No eating...
No birthday
ack ya got me with the toes thing....
My eyes are of a color that cannot be named...I call it orangish green
Latte, never
Oh man, you got me again with the naked thing!

Always good to gain more useful gossip fodder on you! :P XX

lecram sinun said...

I can attest to the fact the Mrs. C was and still is right. Da Count within a meme... I love it!


Breazy said...

Sounds like you had some good teachers especially Mrs.C! My most memorable teacher came when I was a freshman in high school. I acted like I hated math but the truth was I could never understand the methods taught. My freshman year I was in basic math and my teacher was Ms. W. She taught me how to find my own methods and techniques to math and it has paid off because today my main job is accounting.

I love reading your Da Counts every Friday Lime..they are just special!

Have a good weekend!

Anonymous said...

You are DA Queen of tags lime.:)
Loved reading this.:)
I now know more about you than I do about

Jocelyn said...

Haha--I escaped your tagging, but only because I love mochas!

The stapling of your family together...sigh.

snavy said...

Dammit!!! I'm tagged!!!

How the hell did you know about the toe thing????

Great meme & answers btw!!


Deepak Gopi said...

Happy mothers day.
Enjoy a nice week end

KFarmer said...

You had some pretty good teachers there Ms. Lime- great count & Happy Mothers Day! :)

jillie said...

I qualify for 5...oh man!

MONA said...

Dear Lime
Wish you a happy mother's day :)

RennyBA said...

Great meme and interview - good way to know you even better.
Ohh noooooooo... tagged again (how did you know I was naked?!?!)

Thanks for your wishes to Diane and MIL for tomorrow:-)

Christine said...

I had to comment because my closest friend took years of french and spanish too and loved every second. I always thought that was a little odd. Guess there are two of you :-)

Diesel said...

Crap, that's me in the blue shirt.

Good teachers really can make a difference, huh? I fear we're weeding them out these days.

airplanejayne said...

toes, latte, green eyes(sometimes more blue), and nekkid.

oops. a teacher....I really must do this. give me a day or two.

Lovely tribute!