It’s that time of the year again. The temperatures start to go up, Jimmy Buffett starts to play on my iPhone, summer is just within reach, and we celebrate our teachers. It seemed like a good time to reflect on those that have influenced me. Every single person has at least one teacher that they remember; someone who has helped to guide them through life. I can remember some great things about the teachers that I’ve had, and it starts with second grade.
Longstreth Elementary School (RIP 2012). Mrs. Kennedy. Second grade was the year that I wanted to be a Ninja Turtle. I literally thought that I could grow up to be Donatello. Even years later, Mrs. Kennedy would tell me later on that she had to take me into the hallway and break it down to me that I could not become a Ninja Turtle. It must have been so devastating that I don’t remember it, but she does. I saw her at a grocery store about three years ago and she still remembered me and that story.
Mrs. Pierantozzi and Mr. Stremme. Pie Ran To ZZI. That’s how she taught us to remember her name. Her and Mr. Stremme were two of my fifth grade teachers. They were my world in fifth grade, and there really aren’t enough words to describe them. Because of that fifth grade year, I know where all of my states are, can tell you everything about Michael Jack Schmidt, and know a good deal of prepositions:
about, above, across, after, against, along, among, around, as, at, before, behind, beneath, between, by, down, during, for, from, in, outside, over, around, since, through, to, toward, under, until, up, upon, with, within, without
It’s a party trick.
I think back to that fifth grade year and consider it my favorite year of school, and I definitely believe it helped steer my character through life.
Log College Middle School
Mr. Costigan. 6th grade social studies. He continued my love for social studies by giving us extra credit when we watched “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?” Go ahead, start singing the theme song in your head.
William Tennent High School
Mr. Juzwiak. 11th grade math. Everybody hated him, including me. At first. My mom had him when she went there. The thing is, he wasn’t even there for the first half of the year, as he was recovering from surgery. In the time he was out, we had about 8 substitutes. They didn’t teach. They didn’t know the material. But they knew what we had to cover. Whenever somebody understood a concept, they would teach it to the rest of the class. We had donut Tuesdays, would watch SNL’s “Celebrity Jeopardy” on the computer when we were “done” for the day. Anytime somebody “got it,” there’d be high fives all around. That all stopped when he got back. Again, while I didn’t know it at the time, that opportunity to teach the class, and seeing how we behaved and understood while he was out helped me identify my learning style and understand teaching styles. I respect him now, years later, for the way that he taught us.
I had some great professors and some not-so-great professors. One in particular, used to bring her ferrets into class. They’d try and get into EVERYTHING, but they were neat to have around as a sort of class pet; until they disappeared for three days. She was going frantic until she discovered them curled up in the heater. I also had a professor who would put notes up on an overhead and speak fluent Russian throughout his lecture, not necessarily covering what was on the notes. I’m not sure how anyone could have learned in his class. I know I couldn’t.
Without my teachers, I wouldn’t be the teacher, or person, I am today.