Who Was The Special Teacher In Your Life?
It's the good teachers in this world that make a huge contribution to our world's future, and the future of our children. Who was that special teacher in your life? The one who motivated you to work toward reaching your potential, as well as help you find your place in the world?
I started the seventh grade in the Deep South in 1973, at a recently integrated Junior High School. It was a sticky situation for everyone working in the school system in the southern United States during the early seventies, no one knew how to act or what to do. American History’s portrayal of the civil rights movement in our country really doesn’t do justice to the horror of living in the south during those decades. Almost as soon as my new schools front doors swung to a close, I began to understand more about the world, and my place in it. Their wasn't a school in the south, exempt from racial tension. So you can appreciate the challenge presented to teachers, who spent most of their time breaking up fights, and sending students to the office. I really don’t understand how these teachers managed to cope, but they did, and handled whatever obstacles were tossed in their direction, setting an impressive example to their students, about how important tolerance is in our society.
Our classrooms were often a free for all, with paper thrown in the air, and across the classroom, acts few teachers were equipped to handle, however thanks to everything good, my favorite teacher, Mrs. Wilkins, sailed through the experience. She could hold the attention of her high strung 13 and 14 yr old students, crammed in over crowded classrooms, and at the same time articulate what she expected of them. I , on the other hand, had fallen prey to my environment, and began to smoke cigarettes with a group of kids considered “cool” to seventh graders in 1973. I was vulnerable to my peer’s opinions toward what was cool, and fell in nicely with a popular smoking crowd. However, since Mrs. Wilkins taught my favorite subjects, (besides smoking), I still loved her class. I constantly asked questions off the subject, a quality that irritated most teachers; but, Mrs. Wilkins actually answered my questions, with a small smile on her face. For example, I asked her one time, why our textbook implied that the pilgrims treated Native Americans with decency and respect? Usually when I asked teachers these types of questions they thought I was trying to be funny, and my fellow students did laugh, however I literally wanted to know the answer. As a result of these misunderstandings, I was often sent to the principals office without an answer to my questions.
Toward the end of the year, Mrs. Wilkins had her students write a journal, and leave it on her desk at the end of each class. I really enjoyed journaling everyday, in addition to arguing with her about Emerson, Thoreau, and other matters pertaining to English Literature, and philosophy. Then one day when I acted as the “look-out” for teachers while smoking with friends, I peered through a window, and saw Mrs.Wilkins face, ashen with disappointment. Consequently, it was too late to squash out my cigarette. I remember the sting of embarrassment, and despair I felt from knowing I disappointed my favorite teacher. When she and the vice principal walked me to the office that day, I could feel my ears change color. I cared about what Mrs. Wilkins thought, since she treated me almost like a grown up, whose opinions mattered, and were of interest to her.
As we walked toward the office to work out the details of my punishment, Mrs. Wilkins said something that made an impact on my future, and stayed in my mind forever. The vice principal was talking to her as if I were invisible, and said, “I can’t believe this child smokes, she comes from such a good family”, this wasn’t anything I hadn’t heard before, although I hadn’t a clue what it had to do with me. Therefore, I continued to worry instead, about what my mother was planning for me when I got home. Mrs. Wilkins continued with, “You know, Mr. Reach, what the real shame is? She writes beautifully!” I wondered to myself how this could be? I always had the worst handwriting when trying to write cursive, I would get papers back with red marks all over the page. I hated it! What in the world, and who, in the world, is she talking about? I thought perhaps she was talking about a different person.
When I asked her later what she meant, she explained that I had a gift, something special that I could share with others. In the years before Mrs. Wilkins, I was called dumb, or day dreamy, the child off in la la land somewhere, with her head in the clouds. My inquisitive nature only made things worse. If it hadn’t been for a teacher who took the time to read the journal of one of her students, I might have continued to see myself as dumb, without much to contribute; when the truth is we all have something to contribute. Teachers help us, by guiding us on our journey of self-discovery, encouraging us to discover our talents, and providing us with the confidence to follow our passion for our dreams. I think if children have a passion or talent, it saves them from the dangers that come from idle hands, self doubt, or just plain lack of direction. Kids depend on their role models to help them discover their talents, and give them the courage to forge their dreams into reality. Since so often this responsibility falls to teachers, it's the good ones making a huge contribution to our worlds future, and the future of our children. We all need at least one teacher who notices our talents, and expects us to work toward reaching our potential. All children deserve the blessing of at least one teacher, to help them navigate their own ship, through life's rough and unpredictable waters.
For me, that teacher was Mrs. Wilkins, do you remember who that teacher was for you?
Motherhood is an art impossible to explain, one which requires a vast sea of love, devotion, compassion, and understanding, unmatched by any affection we will ever know again.- Ann Clemmons
Words are the core of our souls, without written, vocal or lyrical expression we lose sight of one another or worse, ourselves. Words bring forth the essence of the human spirit; so express yourself without abandon.
Beatrix Potter’s Journal, 17 November 1896, from the National Trust collection.
Alone in her world
of make believe
weaving her stories
of magic and light
She brings joy
to the eyes
of innocent minds
less jaded and free
For only they know
what's in her heart
holding the secrets
she guards so well
Life's hidden mysteries
belong to those
whose wisdom and truth
shine on in imagination
Written for Ann
Of The Horoscope Junkie
Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,” he told me, “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”'
F. Scott Fitzgerald. (Lines from The Great Gatsby)
"A Southerner Talks Music"
"A book must be the ax for the frozen sea inside us."
An author values a compliment even when it comes from a source of doubtful competency.
- Mark Twain in Eruption
"I like a good story well told. That is the reason I am sometimes forced to tell them myself"