Ode To Teachers

I am friends with, or related to, a number of Teachers. (I intentionally capitalized Teachers because I think their jobs are so important that they require a capital.) Both of my longtime closest male friends are Teachers, one teaches high school history and government (and is also married to another Teacher), the other is a physical education Teacher. I also have relatives on both sides of my family that teach. My father in-law taught math for more than 30 years.

I know I could never be a Teacher. It takes a special breed to do the job. Most will admit they do it for the love of teaching - the desire to make a difference in kids' lives if you will. And thinking about everything they have to deal with reminded me of a few Teachers that impacted my life. I think everyone has at least one that stands out. Some have many. Here are a few that made a difference in my life.

  • Wally Wescott - Wally was my sixth grade math Teacher. In addition to teaching, he also coached the football team, ran the school newspaper and organized a huge school-wide garage sale every year that raised thousands of dollars for the sports program. This guy was firm but fair. Out of the clear blue he started me, and undersized second/third string 8th grader, in the last football game of the season. He had no good reason to do it other than he wanted to reward me for giving 100% all year. I never forgot that. I even wrote him a letter as a thirty year-old and told him how much it meant to me.
    Wally Wescott, Upper left. Me, Front row, second from left
  • Sister Patricia - She was a nun who I had homeroom for for 4th through 8th grade. She was also firm but fair. She could be a little Kathy-Bates'-as-seen-in-Misery at times, but she always liked me. Nuns got a bad rap in parochial schools. I thought she did okay, considering who she was dealing with.
  • Mr. Tierney was our high school current events teacher. He was as progressive a teacher as I've ever seen. He taught school in a Network "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore," manner. He encouraged us to think outside the box, to question authority, to get involved. His mantra was "It's the Corporations!!!" We never quite stood on our desks like Dead Poets Society, but if we had, I'm sure he would have been alright with it.
  • Mr. Hughes, aka "Hondo the Magician" was my homeroom teacher for four years in high school. Once he found out my father wasn't around he reached out and tried to connect with me. He even took a friend and I to a Twins game once. Nice guy and an amazing Teacher. (Though I never had his math class - he taught honors, and I was no honors math student, Ha!)
  • Kathie and Michael Giorgio teach me at the writing studio I attend, AllWriters. I feel you should never stop learning, and these two have taught me more about the writing craft than I ever knew existed. They've taken me from a one dimensional flat writer to 3-D. It helps that it's in a subject I love, but their passion for the craft shows through as well.
Our kids have their own memorable teachers as well. I'll never forget the time we met with Mr. Kunkel, the gifted and talented teacher taking time out and talking to us and Sarah about her abilities. He was pretty much spot on with his assessment. And Ben has a couple of great teachers too most notably his swim coach, who I also sent a note to, thanking him for his mentoring and the impact he's had on Ben's growth.

Teachers today are up against more demands with fewer resources than ever before. Class sizes are bigger and with shrinking budgets, they are asked to do more with less. I think we need to recognize the importance of what they do and take time out to thank them.

Who was the teacher that made a difference in your life?

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