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I just felt like a happy story or two might work right about now. A positive Diary. It will focus on three "cool" teachers I've had. I know you've had a wonderful teacher. Please share below the fold cause I will.

Teacher "Unknown"

I was 6-7 years old. It was 1975 and I lived in Leavenworth, KS. I had some speech issues. Nothing physical, I just didn't pronounce some words correctly. In family lore if you ask my parents the problem was we had just moved from Baton Rouge, LA where my best friends were these twin girls (later became LSU cheerleaders -- another story) my age. Cajun. Spending so much time with them "messed" me up :).

It was clear I could read a word and knew how to pronounce it. But the sounds out of my mouth were not correct.

I don't know this teachers name and even my memory of her is vague, but I do recall her sitting with me for like a year. After school. During recess. Working with me 24/7.

One problem I had that is easy to explain is when I'd said something like "truck" I didn't pronounce the "tr" correctly. Instead I'd say "fruck." I can recall like it was yesterday being told that to produce the "tr" sound my tongue needed to push against my front teeth and the top of my mouth (say truck and feel your tongue do this). It is one of those things you don't even realize you do until you have to "learn" it. She taught me this and much more.

I wish I could recall her name to send her a card. More then once or twice in my life I'd made a lot of money doing public speaking engagements. Who would have ever thought.

Teacher: Mr. Roy

Mr. Roy was a high school history teacher of mine. We almost couldn't find a place to sit in his classroom cause it was like a "living" museum. Stuff everywhere. History right there and all around us. He'd conduct a class on say the Civil War and he'd show up in a Civil War uniform.

That was cool, but not why he is listed here.

I live a few miles from the Cahokia Mounds:

Cahokia (pronounced k??ho?ki.?) Mounds State Historic Site is the area of an ancient indigenous city (c. 600–1400 CE) near Collinsville, Illinois. In the American Bottom floodplain, it is across the Mississippi River from St. Louis, Missouri. The 2,200-acre (8.9 km2) site included 120 human-built earthwork mounds over an area of six square miles, of which 80 remain. Cahokia Mounds is the largest archaeological site related to the Mississippian culture, which developed advanced societies in central and eastern North America, beginning more than five centuries before the arrival of Europeans.

He took us there on a field trip and I was blown away.

Now Southern Illinois is pretty flat. Corn fields as far as the eyes can see. I told him I thought I found a site we should explore. I saw ancient remains everywhere after that. I am sure in hindsight, 41 years young now, he knew we'd find nothing. But he got permission to go on the field and we working like 8 hours a day for a week on the site. Found nothing of course.

I've found him (like 20 years later) and thanked him. He didn't say this exactly, but I know he just wanted me to stay curious and to explore the world around me.

Teacher: Dr. Morgan

As a dude that often talks about women's right here, you might be stunned to read what you are about to read.

It was 1988. Freshmen in college. Intro sociology class. I kid you not I said this to the female professor in her class:

Sure women are smart. But men are superior. Pick any topic and a man is superior. That is just the way it is.

This would started a conversation that changed my world view in many ways. That conversation went on for the entire class. Went on to where I took every class she taught even though it didn't count to my major. Of course I was wrong ....

I should also add it might have been the first time somebody violently disagreed with me, but was polite about it. Used reason, facts, and logic.


Teachers matter. They shaped, changed, and directed my life.

Now onto your "happy stories." I know they have to be amazing!

Originally posted to webranding on Sat Apr 16, 2011 at 12:53 PM PDT.

Also republished by Teachers Lounge and Educator Voices.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (17+ / 0-)

    When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

    by webranding on Sat Apr 16, 2011 at 12:53:42 PM PDT

  •  How About Some Happy Teacher (6+ / 0-)

    stories. I know so many are out there.

    When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

    by webranding on Sat Apr 16, 2011 at 12:55:10 PM PDT

  •  Awesome Diary (6+ / 0-)

    Teachers do matter, and they can come in unusual forms.

    Growing up where I did, we had teachers, and we also had a lot of ordinary people, with lots of interesting skills, doing what it took to make the place run.

    One such guy was the TV Repair guy.  I had written of a bad library experience recently, where I stole "the boys first book of electronics", because they said I would not understand it.


    So, one thread of that story was me being able to go and work with the TV Repair guy for part of the day in primary school.

    He was kind of a gruff old guy, who put up with me at first, then started to share stuff.  We fixed a lot of TV's, and I learned a ton.  They let me go there, because I was fixated on actually learning things I wanted to learn, not always the things they were there to teach.

    We used to talk about a lot of things besides TV's, and that time with some strange adult was very valuable time.  I don't know whether or not he knew, but the real education wasn't anything about electronics.  That was just the backdrop for some basic education about life.

    Labor, value, the importance of self-sufficiency, handling people, etc...

    I liked that old guy.  He was decent, but always careful not to show too much of that, and I was always more interested in why that was, more than I was the electronics.

    Turns out, he was jaded.  I came to know the meaning of jaded at a very early age, and I watch for it.  Have been jaded a few times, and have always dug myself out of the hole, because I was and am not ready to be that guy yet...

    Another happy teacher story was my music teacher.  We did music and theatre, and I am good friends with his son.  We used to do listening times and he would trade us Rock, for some classical influences, slowly teaching us a ton of music composition theory and appreciation, all under the guise of "listening to some records".

    I have always admired that kind of person, who can interact with others on many levels at once, and have striven in my life to realize that ability with my kids and peers I interact with, often with good success.

    Funny the things that teachers teach, and funny who ends up being the teacher too...


    by potatohead on Sat Apr 16, 2011 at 01:29:55 PM PDT

    •  Interesting. I Am 41. Single. Never (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      potatohead, Tookish, liz dexic

      married. No kids. My brother married into a large family. Otherwise, to be honest I wouldn't have much experience with people not my age. Now I mean like 10-20. Clearly it is easy for me. I am just the "cool" uncle. But nobody seems to talk to them. I know 12 and 15 year old folks if they are running stuff when I am old I am cool with that :).

      When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

      by webranding on Sat Apr 16, 2011 at 01:38:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I really value other ages. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I'm in my 40's too.

        Older people and younger people are great to hang with and talk to.

        There is so much to be learned from both.

        Would be kind of lonely, if I didn't have different age peers to interact with.


        by potatohead on Sat Apr 16, 2011 at 01:41:18 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  my most awesome teacher (12+ / 0-)

    was Peter Orange, who taught theater at my high school. I started out as the geeky girl who wanted to work lights and costumes  and wouldn't dare go out on stage. He cast me into a small part, encouraged me endlessly, built up my self confidence, and I went on to several large parts over the following three years.

    He took a group of 20 16-year-olds on a 12-hour train ride to go to an improvisational theater festival where we competed against other high school troupes. Brave man! Did it even though he only had one other adult chaperone.

    My senior year, he told me I should direct a play, and did not blanch when I told him I wanted to do Eugene Ionescu's Bald Soprano. Gave me full creative discretion.

    Peter Orange played a big part in getting me to come out of my shell and develop a sense of myself as a powerful communicator. I went on to become a  college professor, and use my theater skills all the time to keep my students engaged in what they are learning.

    •  I've a similar experience. (9+ / 0-)

      My theatre teacher roped me into a play, because I was the only male that could play piano...

      Anyway, I use those skills in my professional life every day.  communicating with people, particularly in this economy, is very valuable right now.


      by potatohead on Sat Apr 16, 2011 at 01:44:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I Don't Think Teachers Are Given (10+ / 0-)

      enough respect.

      The women I first dated. First had sex with. Well that was many, many years ago. Mid-80s. Everybody (myself included) told her theater wasn't a good option. She had a teacher that said, "just do it."

      She is now the head of a pretty large theater department for a college in CO.

      When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

      by webranding on Sat Apr 16, 2011 at 01:51:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Absolutely. (10+ / 0-)

        The most common things I hear is "those who can't do, teach", "anyone can do that", laced with the idea that it's basic education and that "somebody has to do it", etc...

        Truth is, teaching takes considerable skill.

        Empathy is needed, as is some keen perception on the nature of people and theories of mind.

        We are all very different in some basic ways.  Good teachers grok that, leverage it, and can "get inside" and relate things in ways that transcend simple, clear, information communication.

        They also need strength of character.  Lots of failures are the norm, with each success being seen as the investment in the future it is.

        And that takes passion and skill to realize properly.

        It's not the facts and the basic structure we use for education that is of primary value.  That's just the backdrop for the human to human education and people building that happens when we actually value teachers properly, and give them the freedom to do what they do.


        by potatohead on Sat Apr 16, 2011 at 02:38:32 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I have reposted to Teachers Lounge (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    webranding, Dragon5616, Amber6541


  •  I have tried to teach. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    captainlaser, chimene

    Here.  At Daily Kos.  After 5 years, it looks mostly like I have completely failed.

    But I have tried.

    •  I've learned from you. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tookish, chimene
      •  The comments in last night's diary... (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        captainlaser, potatohead, Tookish, chimene

        ...are a train wreck.  The number of people who are expressing bigotry there has been astounding.  And apparently they have no shame for having those beliefs because they have refused to leave.

        •  Bigotry knows no politics or race (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Tookish, chimene

          With a "town" of 300,000 people, dKosVille will have some town fools.


        •  See my comment above. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Teaching is about the successes, and you've had plenty.

          About 23 percent of us, at any one time, are bigots, racists and theocrats.  This is a constant.  It will be a constant.

          The education isn't so much about converting those people.  Some will, and I mean a few, but most will simply learn to better mask their core socialization and character issues, like most people do ordinary, healthy boundaries.

          They will do that because there is always money to be made validating those issues, normalizing them for profit, providing some escape from the social pressure to resolve them and grow.

          The best it ever gets is when those things are shared among "the good people" in some dark hole somewhere, out of the light.

          Your education effort here has been fine.

          What we lack is basic, solid norms of form and style.  Decency and consideration given as the expectation of consideration due is lacking too.

          IMHO, your efforts are blunted somewhat by that problem.  It is difficult to imagine any real progress in the community, when we don't have the norms necessary for your efforts to take root and spread as they could.

          So, just know that.  Also know it impacts others, and their advocacy too.  Perhaps not as much.

          What really needs to happen is those of us who have done the work, socialized, understood, grew, need to step up and be considerably more aggressive about pushing back on this kind of shit, while not dragging ourselves into the mud, or we end up no better than those we are trying to deal with.

          If we can get closer to there, the default assumption that we are all good kossacks, working to better understand one another, can take root and grow to replace the bizzare, "but the rules didn't say I couldn't do that" norm that is so pervasive here now.

          Common sense, some basic self-respect for ourselves and consideration given to others isn't something we need so many rules for, and the fact that we do have so many, indicates clearly to me, the norms in play are not the right ones.

          My life experience has consistently shown that a few stand outs, willing to speak against racism, bigotry, theocracy and do so from a solid position, make a impact that can change norms, pushing that shit back into the dark places, where it needs to stay, because again, that is as good as it ever gets.

          Nobody should have to take that kind of shit, but...  when the push back is as ugly as the trigger for it, we all lose.

          That's my $.02


          by potatohead on Sat Apr 16, 2011 at 04:38:40 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I'm really sorry for that display of (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          disheartening ignorance. I know it well--the feeling of trying so hard to educate and to be met with committed incurious bigotry when I had hoped for curious allies. Life is so much about getting back on the damn horse.

          All I can say is that I too have learned a lot from you and I'm certain I will continue to, since you have lived experience I totally lack and you are very courageous and generous with sharing it. Thank you for all the educating and sharing you do.

          Let the yoke fall from our shoulders; Don’t carry it all, don’t carry it all; We are all our hands and holders; Beneath this bold and brilliant sun; And this I swear to all - The Decemberists

          by Tookish on Sat Apr 16, 2011 at 05:31:48 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I had so many (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ms Citizen, Tookish, chimene, liz dexic

    wonderful teachers, most of them women who today would have many more career options than they did then. I will always remember Mrs. Folendore, my 4th grade teacher, who took me to the school library one day and offered me the most awesome deal I could imagine.  I could come to the library and check out books any time I wanted not just every two weeks,when our class got 15 minutes to pick out one book.  I could read those books in class as long as I finished my work first.  School  suddenly became a place I looked forward to going.

    I could buy a parrot and train it to say, `tax cuts,' but at the end of the day, it's still a parrot, not a conservative.

    by MadRuth on Sat Apr 16, 2011 at 04:10:33 PM PDT

  •  I had several teachers who made a huge (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chimene, liz dexic

    difference in my life. The first was my 8th grade English teacher who ignored my test scores and placed a higher value on the quality of my papers when it came to recommending me for the accelerated English track in high school.

    That led me to my expository writing teacher from junior year who changed my life. Gail Long. I love that woman with the burning passion of a billion white hot suns. She helped me cultivate my writing and made me feel so good about my ability to express myself. There were other issues working against me so it took a while for school to work out for me, but my writing was always an area of strength in great part b/c of her belief in me and explicit help in building my skills.

    Last example was my field hockey coach. She saw me weight lifting in the high school gym and recruited me! I had never been recruited for anything physical. I had danced ballet for 13 years but generally thought of myself as a loser when it came to sports. That all changed with Coach Carey and I was so grateful for, again, her recognition of my value.

    Hmm...I sense a theme....People who saw value, talent, and ability in me, let me know, and helped me to consciously cultivate it. :-) I think they were important b/c my operating belief at that time (and for a long time into adulthood, frankly) was that talent just sort of happened and will had very little to do with it. These were people who helped me engage my will.

    I'm 42 and a credentialed teacher but work with students individually as an educational specialist. Classroom teaching is an art form like no other and I bow down to those people with the greatest regard and gratitude.

    Let the yoke fall from our shoulders; Don’t carry it all, don’t carry it all; We are all our hands and holders; Beneath this bold and brilliant sun; And this I swear to all - The Decemberists

    by Tookish on Sat Apr 16, 2011 at 05:40:07 PM PDT

  •  I'm late here (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    liz dexic

    But here is a letter of mine that a local paper published.  It talk about tenure in education, but mentions teachers that did an excellent job in my own education.

    tenure letter

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