07 May 2010

In praise of teachers...

To Mrs A - For her red hair, red lips and fierce pronouncements: 'Next to her Bible, a dictionary is a girl's best friend.'

To Miss L - For being human enough to come into the classroom, in a few words tell us that we were on our own for this period, and put her head down in her private grief. I never found out what was paining her.

To Miss S - For reading aloud, with emphases and suspenseful pauses in all the right places, about creeping Hobyahs and mysterious girls with yellow ribbons around their necks; and for introducing a Prep to the delights of the spine-tingle; and for the Mercurochrome smiley on a scraped knee.

To Mr McL - For sudden-death maths, and for handsome.

To Miss S - For her inspired reading of the 'Professor Branestawm' series and her divinely manicured pearlie-pink polished fingers that mesmerisingly turned the pages.

To Mrs A - For being the first to show me that writing could open up wonders of imagination that I had no idea I possessed.

To Miss C - For making me the library monitor, allowing me to take out SEVEN books at once, teaching me how to use the microfiche, and for putting me off smoking forever with her very-long yellow-stained fingernails and ashtray odour. I almost forgive her for the lectures on the danger of reading books she deemed 'too old' for me.

To Mr S - For telling me that 83% was not good enough.

To Ms C - For the breath of a world beyond the suburbs and the southern hemisphere.

To Mr S - For the Paradox of the Stone and other philosophical conundrums to stretch the Year Seven brain.

To Mrs C - For giving up on trying to teach the rambunctious Year 10 English class and sitting with me to discuss Careful, He Might Hear You.

To Mr W - For teaching me how to make a wooden pencil box with the sliding lid that I treasured, carved, plastered with stickers, and had stolen from my locker within weeks; for the sporty car and surfer's locks; for the first teacher-crush.

To Mrs W - For showing me that playing the piano was as much about love as it was about technique.

To Ms M (student teacher) - For reading Storm Boy to my Grade Three class and then orchestrating for us to be bussed to the big smoke to see the film. And for sweeping her arms warmly around the weeping of us as we re-gathered on the bus.

To Dr B - For making me believe I could study physics. (He was wrong.)

To Miss L - For teaching me NOT to end the story with 'then I woke up and it was all a dream'; terrifying every student in our year level except me; appreciating my leather-bound Ancient Egyptian assignment despite the fact that it was 900 times the word limit, and being outraged enough to personally buy me a book prize when I didn't win the history prize that year.

To Mrs C - For teaching us the meaning of 'sycophant'; loving language with such an out-loud passion; terrifying every student in our class, including me - with her wit; allowing me to perform puppet shows rather than public speak; pulling strings to keep me in all her classes; and for eventually informing me, to my horror, that I knew as much as she did now and I was on my own.

To Mr B - For not telling my mum when I wagged.

To Miss C - For making us memorise the rivers of Europe. It still helps with crosswords.

To Mrs R - For being scarily strict, a little bit crazy and infinitely inspiring. And for running down the hall in high heels to arrive breathless at our door just in time to join in with Sing, Sing, Sing.

To Miss M - For taking us camping and abseiling, and forcing me to find courage in the face of an unyielding granite cliff that dropped away sickeningly into the bush below.

To Mrs C - For making my lunch every day.

To Miss G, the librarian - For her joyful and inclusive game of alliteration during a hot summer's day excursion, demonstrating with gusto how to bellow your name and an alliterative adjective ('Lovely Liz!') while leaping off the wharf into Manly bay.

To Mr S - For Heart of Darkness, for stories within stories, for the Gospel of Luke as literature, and for tick spasms in the margins of essays.

To Mrs R - for being an immigrant who knew far more about our country than we did, for stretching our suburban brains, and for teaching us anticlines, synclines and rigour.

To Mrs S - For rescuing me after I swallowed the cap of my pen.

To Mrs R - For her quiet, earnest enthusiasms and for her oft-insisted instruction: 'Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.'

To Mrs J - For the joys of slip-stitching, for celebrating the button stem, and for warning against iron-on interfacing and unnatural fibres.

To Miss C, the headmistress - For having a bold vision for what girls could do, and for knowing how to make us cry in assembly.

And especially to AG who inspired this post - For making her class laugh by pretending the Interactive Whiteboard wand was a Harry Potter wand. 'Accio answer! Accio book!'

Yours with gratitude and in admiration,



Anonymous said...

To Mr S, The maths teacher who saw beyond the loud mouth and went out of his way to show us that it didn't matter that we lived in a bad area we could be anything we wanted to be. I still quote you 20 years later.

Celine said...

To Mr Doyle and Ms Dunne, to whom I dedicated my first three books. And to Mr Carney who is having to wait his turn, but whose turn will come.

Jellyfish said...

Oh, exciting! I only just saw this!

What a lovely post. Thanks :D

Perhaps we could have one about literary teachers? Like Miss Honey, and Miss Binney from 'Ramona the Pest' which I have just been listening to on audiobook. Who is so well-meaning and clearly at a loss as to how to take poor Ramona.

And I always enjoy Harper Lee's comments on teachers and education in "To Kill a Mockingbird." Especially Miss Caroline who is so unsettled that Scout already knows how to read when she arrives at school! Burris Ewell makes her cry and the children comfort her saying "Don't you fret ma'am!" She then proceeds to "mystify the first grade with a long narrative about a toadfrog that lived in a hall." LOL

A latte beckons said...

To Miss M, for being everything a headmistress (not a principal!) should be.

To Mrs W, who helped me to speak up.

To Mrs K, who invented a whole subject just for my gang (History for Specialists).

To Mrs J, who taught me Latin all the way, and bought us gins after our last exam.

And all my wonderful English and Lit teachers - thanks for all the As!!

miss elise said...


A latte beckons said...

The sublime Miss Jean Brodie.