WyzAnt has been having an essay contest for students. The prize is money toward college. And I started reading the essays. Now, I know math is my best subject, but I do have an eye (and ear) for grammar, and I have also edited writing.
But I digress.... The essays had me thinking of who were my teaching inspirations. As one of the essay writers stated, it's hard to choose just one. (And, to be honest, I've never been able to choose just one of anything.)
I can start with my first grade teacher, Mrs. Seymour. She seemed so caring, so loving. Then there was Mrs. Beerman (in later years, as an adult, she became a friend, even though she was closer to my mother's age). Though she gave us way too many reports and booklets to do in 2nd grade (she was also my teacher in 3rd and 7th grades) she was my introduction into some lifelong interests – dinosaurs and meteorology, for example.
My 7th and 8th grade Math teacher, Mrs. Redshaw, who was nuts, but a good teacher. She taught me to love math and numbers.
In high school, I had Rabbi Solnica for Math (and humash – Bible), Mr. Schwartzbard for Ivrit (Hebrew), Mrs. Edelsburg for navi (prophets). I had Mr. Krohn (who, despite his youth and inexperience, reached me) for English (I read and reread the last page of “The Picture of Dorian Gray” thanks to him), Miss Anahory for French (she, like Mr. Krohn, was young, and, while they didn't seem to be able to control the class, they both inspired me to read – Miss Anahory inspired me to read parts of Les Miserables in French).
Two of my college professors gave me compliments that I will never forget. One took one of my computer art projects and used it as a basis for an assignment the next semester (it felt really good to see what other students did with it); the other, long story short, told me he read my paper for pleasure.
But I save the best of them all for 3 very special men. Mr. Steif and Rabbi Eliezri were both very intimidating teachers. Well, they were intimidating to just about everyone else but me. They both loved the questions I would ask – both men found teaching me challenging but rewarding. Mr. Steif and I would talk after class, making me chronically late to Chemistry my junior year of high school. We would argue Jewish philosophy, religion, biblical verses, even Hebrew grammar. Rabbi Eliezri never understood why I knew everything in class by not on the tests.
And, last but not least, my 7th and 8th grade principal, Rabbi Lazar. As a young woman going through school with undiagnosed ADHD (they didn't even know about ADD back then), I often got into trouble in school (I spent long hours in the principal's office all through elementary school). But Rabbi Lazar understood me. He understood that most of what was wrong with me in class was boredom and he helped me learn more. He taught me to love learning and drink it all in, even if the report card grades weren't there. He taught me that I could do anything, even if the world and most of the people in it thought that something was only for boys (or men). I can only hope he knows the influence he had on me. I've wanted to tell him for years.
We all have great teachers who make a huge difference in our lives. Teaching is a tough job, but it's also very rewarding. The Talmud says, “I have learned much from my teachers, even more from my colleagues, but I have learned the most from my students.” I wholeheartedly agree.