Monday, May 4, 2015

Teacher Appreciation Time

This is Teacher Appreciation Week all over this great land of ours, and I wanted to take a few minutes today to thank the many teachers who are and have been a part of my life. I think of my Mom, who taught kindergarten and first grade for many years. I am thinking today of former students from my youth groups who have gone on to be teachers- people like Ken Hill, Todd Farlow, Beth Brown Meadows, Lisa Kraus Spires, Caitlin Esry, Josh Fry and many more. I think of one of my very best friends, Lisa Jewett, who teaches first grade here in Tampa.  I think of educators like Donna Haynes Myers, Debbie Davis and Dana Schmidt who have been such good friends to us over the years. I know how much these great teachers care about their students, and I want them to know how proud I am of them all. They put so much of themselves into what they do, often against insurmountable odds and under incredibly difficult circumstances. They seldom get to truly teach anymore, spending most of their time preparing students to take tests that they have nothing to do with. It is a frustrating life for many of them. But yet they love it, because they care so much about the students.

This is also a week to think back many years on the teachers who impacted our lives when we were in school. I was blessed with many great teachers, but here are a few recollections of some of the most memorable...

  • My 2nd grade teacher was Mrs. Ware, who used to sneak up behind you when you were misbehaving and smack you on the top of the head with a wooden ruler. Back then it was good teaching. Now it would get you put away for child abuse...
  • I remember 3rd grade and Mrs. Jarvis, who liked me so much she named her son Carl a few years later. I don't know that it actually had anything to do with me, but that's my story and I'm sticking to it.
  • Mrs, Brawley was my 4th grade teacher and I loved her. But what really matters was that Jamie Huffling was in her class too. My first big-time crush!!!
  • In 5th grade I had Mrs. Mullis, who was the first teacher I ever had who tried new things and was extremely creative. She rewarded good behavior and good grades by letting us sit facing our best friends, which made a good class great. She had a huge impact on my life. And for reading I had Mrs. Gillon, who was famous for saying, "If you don't get quiet, you better!" Never did figure that one out. She was also the only teacher to ever spank me. Memories...
  • Some of my favorite years were grades 6-8, or junior high school as we called back in the day. And one of the primary reasons for that was our great Principal, Howard Cross. He taught us so much about being in control without being a tyrant. Plus he once myself and two of my friends out of class for a whole day just to wash the activity bus. How cool is that?
  • My 7th grade homeroom teacher was Ms. Tuttle. Whenever you would try to give her an excuse or whine about some perceived injustice, her favorite sarcastic response was, "My heart pumps peanut butter for ya."   
  • In junior high school one of my teachers was Mrs. Ferrell. She taught me typing, language arts and was the school newspaper advisor. I was the sports editor. Looking back I would have to say she was my favorite teacher ever.
  • I had Mr. Robinson for U.S. history in 9th grade. He was a wonderful teacher with a great sense of humor- his battles of wit with another great history teacher, Mr. Brown, whose room was across the hall, were legendary. He was also the creator of The Purge. If he saw someone chewing gum (in those days a serious offense!) he would stop class and call for The Purge. He would announce he had seen someone with gum. He would then give anyone who was chewing gum opportunity to turn themselves in. If you pleaded guilty, you would receive a minor punishment, like bringing in a recipe for spaghetti sauce. If you were the person he had seen and did not confess, you would wind up writing a 5 page paper on the industrial revolution (or something like that). It was always amazing how many gum chewers he would catch every time Coach Robinson did The Purge! (Side note: My friend Steve Semmler would later use The Purge to sniff out some cheaters in a college class he was teaching. Worked like a charm, too!)
  • And finally, there was only one teacher in 12 years (I am too old to have attended public kindergarten in NC) who really didn't like me. Mrs. Hopper taught high school math. I barely passed geometry under her watchful eye. Other students joked that the entire class could be up talking and goofing off, but if I got up to sharpen my pencil she would yell, "Sit DOWN, Carl!" I had her again for Algebra 2 (not by choice) the following year, and I would still be in that class had she not gotten pregnant and turned the class over to teacher (Mrs. Wagoner, who deserves a post all to herself someday!) who knew even less than I did. Just before she went out on maternity leave, the class was asking what she and her hubby were going to name the baby. Me being me, I raised my hand and asked if they had considered Grass as a baby name. You know- Grass Hopper. The class laughed hysterically. Mrs. Hopper did not. She left without killing me and my grades improved greatly under her replacement.  :)
Teachers were so important in each of our lives. In today's world, they face greater challenges than ever as they seek to mold young minds under very difficult conditions. They should be appreciated every day. But since this week has been set aside, do something special for the teachers in your life. Let them know they are loved. Be liberal with words of praise and hugs. Happy Teacher Appreciation Week to all teachers everywhere!!!

Because of Jesus,

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