Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Wednesday, 24 May 2006 - Great teachers

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for great teachers.

The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires. ~William Arthur Ward

While attending Dominic's promotion ceremony this afternoon, I thought about the elementary school teachers who inspired me to be a better person.

Mrs. Pankinin (kindergarten) - One afternoon, after she finished reading a book to the class, I told her and my classmates that I could read the book. My remark caught her off-guard. She recovered quickly, however. She must have realized that I wasn't bragging. I was simply stating a fact. After a brief pause, she handed me the book. I immediately re-read it aloud to the class. Mrs. Pankinin never said a word to me about the event, saving me any embarrassment from my unconventional act. I later learned that she reported her surprise and delight to my mother. My love of books and reading has never waned.
Mrs. Thompson (1st grade) - By the time I entered 1st grade, I was reading at the 6th grade level. Mrs. Thompson had the wisdom and courage to put me in my own reading group so I could progress at my own speed. From her, I learned the importance of treating children as individuals.
Mrs. Geminder (2nd grade) - She was young, energetic and "with it." She inspired my decision to become a teacher.
Mrs. Wright (3rd grade) - She recognized my creativity and helped me expand my repertoire. A few days each week, she gave me permission to work with first graders - I usually read books to them. From Mrs. Wright, I learned the importance of meeting each student's needs. Even the best students need personal attention and help meeting their special challenges.
Mrs. Hughes (4th grade) - One day, the boys were naughty and accused the girls of participating in the prank. Mrs. Hughes was annoyed and would not listen to my explanation of the situation. She simply remarked, "that's the way the cookie crumbles" (I think of her and cringe when I hear that phrase). Needless to say, she punished the entire class. I vowed not be be another Mrs. Hughes. At age 10, I already knew that lessons about honesty, fairness and justice were just as important as our reading and math assignments.
Mr. Thietje (5th grade) - His grammar assignments involved diagramming hundreds of sentences including the Pledge of Allegiance. I immediately understood and appreciated the structure of the English language. Because of him, I decided to become an English teacher.
Mr. Canary (6th grade) - He shared his love of classical music with us. Every Friday, we listened to Gilbert & Sullivan operettas. The result: the birth of one more opera lover - me!
Mr. Dimoff (6th grade - math) - He taught the advanced class and always emphasized math's practical applications. For example, he taught us probability from the Los Angeles Times horse racing summaries. My love of math grew from his classes.

For these blessings, I am grateful.


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