Apr 23, 2010

List-Mania: Cool Teachers!

Day 174

So far most of my columns that I write about school have usually been about how I hated it or some of the funny things that happened or about how I didn't get along with authority figures. And so far my List-Mania columns have been devoted to more fun things that I enjoy in life but this time both columns (to be combined into one) will be much different. Looking back I have found teachers that I have had that had a positive impact on me and today, I am honoring them. They are not listed in any particular order.

Ms. Archer (Sifton Elementary School)
I was fortunate to have Ms. Archer for 2 years straight. I had her in Sifton for grades 5 and 6. Not only did I think she was an excellent teacher but I felt that she cared more for me than just making sure I got good grades. Towards the end of the 5th grade I began to hang out with this other kid in my class and he was not the nicest kid. He would threaten other kids and bully some of them and threaten beatings and I wanted to be like this kid. Ms. Archer noticed this too and saw that I was changing and not for the good. So she made the decision to move my desk away from him and back to some of my other friends. And she asked me to stay after school for a couple of minutes. She told me after school that I was not being true to myself and that I should stop trying to be like this kid. She then told me that I was not being nice and I would lose people's respect and friendship. At the time those words hurt since I liked Ms. Archer a lot but walking home and thinking about it, I knew she made sense. So I eventually stopped hanging around this kid and went back to my normal circle of friends. What she did had nothing to do with school work, nothing at all to do with my grades. But she cared enough about me to take the time to set me straight. Something I will never forget.

Mrs. Baugh/Letham (North Cache Middle School/Sky View High School)
After Killarney I moved to the United States and I had to start the 8th grade in a new school and a new country. I tried to fit in but unfortunately the U.S. also had its share of bullies. But this grade was much better than Killarney and I made some good friends but more importantly I had some good teachers. My favorite was Ms. Baugh, my English teacher. I had no problems in reading plays and characters in class which made me one of her favorites. But it was the writing assignments that I really liked and she knew I liked. One assignment that I had was to write about an invention. I thought about some sort of sorting vacuum cleaner and eventually the story morphed into something completely different. Something that I was really proud of. I handed it in and a few days later she wanted to speak to me privately. She handed me back my story and explained the assignment and I realized that I screwed up. My story was completely different from the assignment. I felt like such an idiot but she told me it was the best story she had read in years. Then she told me not to worry about the assignment, I wrote a story that I should be proud of and that she would reward me extra credit for going all out on a story. She asked if she could keep a copy of the story so she could read it to her 6th graders as an example of how to write creatively. I was honored. Later on I became her assistant my senior year and she still remembered my story and encouraged me to try to get it published. I still have that story and I have worked on it occasionally and I think it would make a great children's book. Ms. Baugh (later it became Mrs. Letham) really knew how to push me creatively and taught me to embrace it instead of shy away from it.

Mrs. Burningham (Sky View High School)
I had Mrs. Burningham for two classes my senior year in high school (it was her first year teaching at Sky View) and they were my favorite classes. I had her for Painting and also for AP Art and AP Art is where I learned the most. At this point I wanted to be a comic book artist and she really helped me understand that I need to know and learn all forms of art so I can be a complete comic book artist. But she really knew me as a person and understood when I was not feeling art. Every once in awhile I would just sit and talk quietly with my friends or do some reading and she never bugged me about getting my projects done. She knew it was more important to recharge batteries and she trusted me enough that I would get my stuff done.

Ms. Spicer (Killarney Junior High School)

I didn't have too many bright spots when I attended Killarney Junior High but she was one of them. She was a great teacher that tried her hardest to not only teach but also to help us form our own opinions. She appreciated what each student had to say and she went out of her way to make all of us comfortable so we would give our opinion. I was mostly a quiet student but in her class I felt like I could talk and add to the discussion. She cared about her students as well, I remember a couple of times where she could see that I was struggling and she would talk to me personally. There were many times that I was threatened to get beat up and she would always allow me to come to her class after school so I could escape. She made such an impression that she was a character in my first novel. She of course was a teacher that helped one of students choose a better life.

Mr. Churchill (Sky View High School)
I know a lot of people didn't like him but I really did. I had him for a variety of classes from Driver's Ed to Sociology to Weight Training. He demanded a lot from you in class and made sure you succeeded. I remember in Weight Training he gave me a goal of how much weight I could bench and he kept trying to add more weight and demand more from me. I eventually ended up going over my goal by 16 pounds because he kept driving me. What I respected about him the most was that he told it like it was. He himself was never disrespectful but when he was (or any of us) were disrespected he really would hit you over the head. One time in weight training some kid put in a tape (Guns and Roses Use Your Illusion II) for use to listen to when we were lifting. Now Mr. Churchill was not a fan of profanity and when a song came on that was loaded with it he stopped lifting and ran and got the tape and broke it in half and threw it outside. He did warn us in advance that he doesn't tolerate that sort of stuff. And he did exactly what he said he would do.

There were other teachers I had throughout my life that made an impact on me too but these teachers stood out the most. I appreciate that they took the time to be an example to me and taught me more than what was expected in the classroom.

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