In Praise of Teachers

I've been told that this week is Teacher Appreciation Week.  In my opinion, every day should be Teacher Appreciation...and we should recognize that everyone who enters our lives has something to teach us, if only we are open to learn.

But for the purpose of today's blog, I want to focus on those who hold the title "teacher" (and because of that I will NOT be including any professors.   Maybe some other day I'll blog about them and all those "unofficial" teachers in my life.)

Even though my son is only in 2nd grade he has already had some wonderful teachers that have helped him grow, mature and learn.  From Mrs. B at Robin's Nest II where he went three mornings a week and made his first best friend to Mrs. McCabe and Miss Kirby in kindergarten who helped him overcome his writing anxiety.  (And how lucky were we to have two great teachers in one year?  When Mrs. McCabe had to leave to have a baby, Miss Kirby seamlessly picked up the ball and finished out the year.).  And then there was Ms Varallo in first grade.  I knew that Ms Varallo was an excellent teacher as I had her when I was in first grade.  I still remember learning about vowels from her.  And all these years later she is as still as vivacious, outgoing and caring.  (And looks younger than I do and definitely has more energy then me!)  And now he's wrapping up the year with Miss Seaton who I can't say enough good things about.  Each and every one of them have been dedicated to helping my son learn in whatever way they could.   I know years from now I will remember them and know my son will too.  They are fine examples of what the teaching community continues to be and I can only hope that as he continues through elementary, middle and high school that the rest of his teachers and on the same level as these women.  (Although it's a tough bar to match).

The school system that my son is going through is also the same one that I attended (more years ago than I care to admit). Although it may have been awhile since I attended public school, I still remember so many teachers who impacted my life and helped make me the person I am today.  There were so many, but I wanted to specifically mention:
  • Ms Varallo:  She was my first "full day" teacher.  A beautiful woman inside and out...and she continues to be so.  What stands out in my mind is her teaching the vowels and the short and long vowel sounds (although I'm certain she taught much more than that).
  • Mrs. Williams:  She was one of the toughest teachers I ever had, even though was only in third grade. I'll never forget how she literally made the light go on in my brain when it came to fractions.  I just didn't understand it.  I can remember going up to her desk and with her Bic colored pens she drew three lollipops.  Then with pen in hand she showed me what 1/3 looked like.  Right then and there, I got it. That moment sticks with me to this day and shows how her patience and tenacity paid off for me.
  • Miss DePetro:  She taught 5th grade and prepared us for the move to middle school.  I remember thinking she was somewhat "exotic" because she wore big hoop earrings.  That was the year that I got my ears pierced and I wanted to wear earrings just like Miss DePetro because I admired her so much.
  • Mrs. Messer:  She was my middle school homeroom teacher and taught numerous subjects.  She was so focused on everyone in her class. From her I learned what a diorama was (and how making one was definitely NOT one of my strong suits). She was the last teacher that I can recall who read to her class. I still remember her reading "The Greatest Christmas Pageant Ever."
  • Miss Hughes:  She had more energy than anyone I know and she made learning Spanish so much fun. I had her for two years and wish I could have had her for many more.
  • Mr. Budz, Mr. Schmouse, Mr. Curcio:  All were music teachers.  And though I may not have been the best music student, I learned so much from each of them.  But the most important thing I learned was how to be a part of a group.  Being a part of the band brought so many different kind of kids together.  We learned how to play together, musically and as people.  And most importantly, they each in their own unique way, made it fun.
  • Mrs. Young:  I read more in her English classes (particularly her Junior AP English class) than I did in any of my college classes.  She taught us to appreciate the classics (and also showed us how much "smut" could be found in old English poetry).  She introduced me to "To Kill A Mockingbird" which is my favorite book of all times. Although  you cannot tell from my blogging, she taught me how to write a proper essay...and if I had to I could still do it.  
  • Mr. Luks:  He was another amazing English teacher.  He encouraged my writing and wanted us to write as much as we possibly could.  Only under his guidance would I have been brave enough to re-write Hamlet in modern times as my final senior project.
  • Mrs. Lozauskas: Made biology fascinating.  AP Biology was one of the most difficult courses I took and yet it was also one of the most rewarding and that was the result of the time and effort that Mrs. Lozauskas put into her class.  
These are just some of the teachers that I was privileged enough to have in my life.  Whether they read this blog or not, I just wanted to publicly thank them all.  The words that I put down here barely begin to express all that they did for me and how much I continue to appreciate their hard work.I hope that in some way they knew how much they meant to me and how they all ,in their own way, made my life better.


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