Friday Five (on Sunday)
February 29, 2004
Mr Adam ponders:
Going through some old papers my parents brought from their house last week, I found several notes to my parents from teachers I'd had growing up. I got to thinking about the legions of teachers I had for the first 21 years of my life, and wondered:
Who were the 5 that had the greatest impact on me as a person, for good or ill?
1) Miss Stoehr and Miss Palfy, both in 4th grade. The way our elementary school was set up, you had two teachers for each grade and would change classrooms after lunch. Miss S was a former nun who, I think, was simply too nice to make it as a god-penguin. Miss P later became the school's principal, which rocked. Both helped me through a rough year--rough mostly because my mom was coming unglued and home was, to say the least, unsettled. Miss S came over to dinner a couple of times and did the best she could helping my mom find some help. Miss P gave me a cool-ass copy of The Hobbit at the end of the year, simply because she knew how much I loved to read. I still have it, in fact, and it is a treasure.
2) Mr Conoran (I think that's how you spelled it), seventh grade English. He pushed us pretty hard, but, man, did we learn a lot about how to think and reason. Exactly the person you want teaching in Jr. High.
3) Mrs Babcock, second grade. We moved from Chicago to Pittsburgh right before second grade. When I went to go take the placement test, I was having a shy day, which I remember being pretty common right after the move, and didn't speak during the whole exam. Of course, the principal assumed that I had some kind of exotic learning disability and put me in the "slow" class. By the end of the first month, I would sit in class and cry, simply because I was so freaking bored (which isn't to say that I'm a genius, just that I was a little speedier than the kids I was with). Of course, it was then assumed that I had an exotic learning disability and a personality disorder. It was Mrs Babcock who figured out that I just needed more of a challenge and lobbied to move me into the other second grade class. It did the trick.
4) My trig teacher in high school. Can't remember his name. Horrible instructor. Never actually taught and would sit in front of the class, mumbling about cosines, then assign problems from the book, which we were on our own to figure out how to do. I still don't know squat about trig, nor do I ever care to know more.
5) Dr. Stephen Lyons, Allegheny College, history. Amazing teacher. Again, pushed us hard but it was so worth it. Lots of reading, lots of discussions--during which you were expected to be on your toes at all times. I'd always kinda liked history before but he made me love it.
As usual: other Firday Fivers in the left list.