Friday, October 17, 2008

I Love Teachers

Year after year, I am continually reminded how awesome my education has been and how much I appreciate the teachers/professors who taught/inspired me. In my perfect world, teachers would be paid the movie star/sports hero salaries.

I definitely remember all my elementary school teachers but I was so young, I wasn't really learning. I was basically being molded. So, my first shout out skips to 7th grade.

7th grade French teacher - she was really old and Dutch. She was also the perfect first teacher for a language. I got excellent fundamentals to French and also she let me sneak by a little cheat on a quiz once. I blanked on the French word for sleep but I could remember the German one, schlafen, so I put it down. I blew her mind and amused her enough to pass the quiz.

7th grade history teacher - taking history from him coincided with the first gulf war and the run up to elections. I'm sure he first ingrained the seeds of me becoming a history major. He definitely made history feel alive and something we're living in.

9th grade science teacher - I learned a ton from him about Earth Sciences (sadly a subject no longer taught at my high school). I can still name all the types of clouds, understand weather and topographical maps. Wind blows from high to low pressure and a cold front is drawn with spiky triangles, warm front is half circles.

9th grade French teacher - awesome and loony with a lot of bad French puns. My favorite was her trying to tell a waiter that she was full by saying, "Je suis plein." which means I am pregnant.

All my high school gym teachers - I wasn't very athletic but I always enjoyed gym classes from step aerobics to yoga. Granted, I didn't need to hear messy divorce details or stuff about family massages but I always value a character! I also learned a ton about sports medicine and health (I'm always able to spot the chick with an eating disorder).

High school chorus teacher - unfortunately his later teaching career was ruined by allegations of improper conduct but during my years he was proper and a hoot. He was very encouraging and had a wide taste of music so our biannual concerts and yearly musicals were always interesting and tough. Here is a smattering of what I sang under his direction in 4 years: Charpentier's Messe de Minuit, a collection of songs from Mozart's magic flute, Libeslieder Waltzes, Vaughn Williams, Mozart's Regina Coeli, and the Hallelujah chorus every year.

10th grade history teacher - I still think about the awesome exercise that he had our class work through regarding WWI to teach us about the downfalls of multiple treaties and conflicting allegiances. Sadly, our class wound up heading to world war anyways but we learned our lesson! Also, each week we had two teams debating topics. I remember that I had to debate about Adam Smith and laissez faire economics and whether dropping the bomb on Japan was racially motivated.

11th grade history teacher - again another teaching career ruined by allegations of improper conduct but she was always awesome my year with her. She taught us AP history and got us the furthest in history. Heck, we got to find out what happened after WWII! Granted, it was a 3 page chapter with a lot of pictures... I kicked ass on my AP exam thanks to her.

11th grade English teacher - a scary, tough ex-nun who made me work my ass off and enjoy it. I was able to forget Ethan Frome while I enjoyed Wharton's "The Age of Innocence". It was also so cool to learn about the Fisher King myth before we read "The Natural". I also fell in love with "The Wasteland" thanks to this class. Maybe she was the reason I entered Umass as a declared English major?

11th grade science teacher - he was very old fashioned borderline racist/sexist but man o' man I learned my moles and atomic weights! He also had a penchant for pop quizzes - which never stressed me out but always helped me learn.

12th grade humanities - once the history AP was over, history was no longer a required subject at my high school. So, I took Humanities which was like a combo of history, English and art appreciation. Basically, it was a class designed to my strengths and yet I wound up skipping it a lot. The teacher was always awesome. Every year, he had this huge grade-wide project that took half a day. Half of our grade did the AM and the other half did the PM shift. We all gathered in a gym and built a city with tape of construction paper according to instructions handed to only a couple of students. At the end, it turned out to be a big exercise to teach about racism and inequality. I remember I had a little square of a house and I had to crouch on it for a long time and if I was caught going outside the lines, I was sent to jail. If you got fed up enough about your house size, you could get money from the bank to expand but no one from my neighborhood could get loans and most of us wound up in jail.

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