In honor of finals week, we thought we’d look back at our own educational experiences and pay tribute to our own set of the best, the worst, and the just plain odd teachers.
Colette: I knew by the seventh grade that I wanted to be a teacher. That desire was more deeply solidified by a few outstanding high school teachers; thank you Bruce and Karen and Leslie. I am truly in your debt for inspiring me to pursue such a joyful career.
I may have changed my mind about teaching had I encountered my worst teacher earlier in the process. He inches in ahead of the fourth grade teacher who forced us to make yarn God’s Eyes, literally every day, skipping math and spelling and such nebulous subjects as those. My worst teacher’s name is Dr. Bob Ross. I remember this, vividly, because he spent an entire semester talking about himself in the third person. “Dr. Bob Ross didn’t get the papers graded this weekend because he dealt with some Ross family matters.” “Dr. Bob Ross expects your annotated bibliographies to be turned in by midnight tomorrow, even though Dr. Bob Ross will be sleeping if you do.” It was creepy. I suspect he was exceedingly narcissistic because he liked to talk about himself and his salt water fish, as much as he liked hearing the sound of his own names. Plural. The only thing which saved my classmates and me is the fact (insert unsympathetic giggle) that Dr. Bob Ross got an unstoppable case of hiccups and had to be hospitalized. Is that a thing? Can a person really be hospitalized for that? Dr. Bob Ross did not return for the last few weeks of the semester, and we got a perfectly acceptable replacement, whose name, I’m sorry to say, escapes me.
Emily: For being the most fun: Mrs. Batson, my second grade teacher who let us make sandwiches with M&Ms and put candy in our shoes at Christmas (I think the take-away here is that I like people who give me candy).
The award for imparting the most knowledge goes to my AP US History teacher, Mrs. Scarborough. She’s the reason I still remember Warren Harding is the most scandalous US President and she didn’t get mad when I went through a period of sleeping in the back corner of the classroom (My parents had just gotten AOL and I’d discovered instant messenger…).
Best all around: Coach Mittura, my high school physics teacher who dropped a bowling ball off the roof of Clarksville High and convinced us all to come to school on Christmas morning to watch a solar eclipse.
Oh, and I can’t forget my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Hoover, who invited 25 eleven-year-old’s over to play kickball in the rain at her house.
Pam: Admittedly, my biggest crush (okay, okay, I know…that’s not the point) was on my handsome as the day is long, 28 year old, 7th grade teacher, Mr. Hilliard. I thought about him for years and when I was 19, he came in one night unexpectedly to hear me play banjo and sing. My heart still did pitty-pat. Goodness! Now, on to my all-time favorite teacher…It would have to be a tie between 1.) Miss Groseclose (yes, that was truly her name), Judy Groseclose from Ft. Wayne, Indiana who taught me in 6th grade at Beechgrove Elementary School in Independence, Ky. She was just a warm, thoughtful, engaging, great teacher. She was 23, and perhaps at 11-12, I was at a most impressionable age, but I really wanted to be just like her when I grew up. She drove an orange Volkswagon Beetle bug, and I wanted one just like it. When she moved away to become an airline “stewardess” for American Airlines, she stayed in touch with me. We wrote letters for years. When I was 15, while on vacation with Mom and Daddy out west, we stopped by and I got to meet her husband, Jack. She was nearly due with her first baby. That baby would now be about 37 years old! Miss Groseclose got behind us in class and helped us put together a first-time talent show at our school, where I performed publicly for the very first time. In my faux-suede “hot-pants” and white go-go boots, I played guitar and sang “Rocky Top”. I humbly report that the audience went wild, and I found my passion for life. She encouraged us to role-play in class, creating skits to act out, solving cases, etc. I just adored her.
2) Tied with her would be Tammy Ruff, who teaches psychology right here at Nashville State. She created the most interesting, thought-provoking, and fun learning environment I’ve ever been in. From her challenging her students to participate in an “act of random kindness”(our group took our dogs to visit at an elderly day-care center and interact with the patients there), she made us critically think outside of the box. She brought in guest speakers from Nashville Cares who shared their tragic stories of contracting HIV, and very memorably she began our first class by having us sit in a circle and introduce ourselves (as well as then naming the person next to us who had just introduced themselves), thus learning every single student’s name by the end of the class; it was amazing. Perhaps most enjoyable was that she brought such an entertaining, delightful sense of humor to the classroom, something which kept us wanting to come back from week to week. She truly found her life’s work when she decided to become a college professor, someone who, now 13 years later, I can say is one of my dearest friends.
Sally: My favorite teacher was my 5th grade teacher. She read us books in class. My favorite was The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas. She would always stop at a very exciting place, so would have to come the next day to find out what would happen. (I was never sick so I never missed any school days from Kindergarten – 12th grade, kind of like my job here at NSCC.) She made the classics come alive. It was a very enjoyable year for me.
Jolly Librarian: Mrs. Simmons, my 4th-grade teacher, was obsessed with flying saucers and the fact that I didn’t eat lunch. (Perhaps she thought people who didn’t eat lunch were aliens?) Anyway, I have horrible memories of swallowing scalloped potatoes whole as she approached, hiding yucky foods in my milk carton as she left, and being left to sit with the 5th graders while she made me stay in the lunch room to “finish your lunch.” (I hate to admit that I was not a very smart kid; it took me several days until I realized that once she left the lunchroom, no one cared if I ate my lunch or not and I could throw it all in the garbage can.) Every report card had the same comment: “Faye needs to learn to eat.” For some reason, she left at midyear, and Mrs. Crawford took her place. She took no interest in my eating habits, but on my next report card, wrote, “Faye’s love of books is a rare and wonderful thing to witness.” Life was good again. (And, Mrs. Simmons, if you’re out there, I did learn to eat.)