Names to Remember


These are names that I pulled out of my head (and then had Word alphabetize).  I didn't cheat and look them up on line.  I didn't go old school and  look them up in a book.  I remembered them.  Maybe I didn't spell them all correctly, but I remembered them.  (And I purposely did not go back and check yearbooks to make sure I got everything correct; I wanted this to be from my memory for better or worse.)

It's pretty obvious that they are last names.  For some I know the first names, but for the majority they were Mr., Mrs. or Miss. Or in a couple of cases Senora, Senorita or Madam.

Those names represent most (not all; I'm not THAT good) of the teachers I had in my 12 years of schooling.  There are names I have forgotten, like my 7th grade math teacher. I know this last name began with a P, but the rest fails me.  But even those who's names I have forgotten (like the shop teachers and my 7th grade social studies teacher) I can remember their faces and bits and pieces from their classrooms.  I think that's pretty impressive considering that I graduated high school (gulp) over 30 years ago.  What's really impressive is that I can remember Mrs. Joenke (my kindergarten teacher) playing the piano in our classroom.  Miss (later Ms) Varallo's book challenge and how much I wanted that gold star that you got when you finished them all.  Being Mrs. Santa Claus (one of several) in Mrs. Fahy's classroom play.  The light going off when Mrs. Williams explained fractions to me using her colored Bic pens. There were so many spelling tests in Mrs. King's class.  And Miss DePietro taught us some Spanish. (Back in the day when foreign language wasn't formally taught into 7th grade; so learning some in 5th was rather exotic.) For every name on that list, I have at LEAST one very specific memory.  (Some are very strange WHY do I remember that Senorita Hughes went to see some play/musical on Broadway and she sat near the actor/comedian Dick Shawn? Some are heartwarming:  like when I struggled with a specific question on my Spanish final because I couldn't remember a word and Senora Sabates told me to look outside and suddenly I knew what arbol was.)

Frankly, as I am now in my 50s (gulp again), my memory is not always that great. But all these people have stayed with me.  Whether they realized it or not (whether I realize it or not), their "work" and their presence influenced and shaped my life.  I would NOT be the person I am today (for better or worse) if it were not for them.  

How many people can you say that about?  If you made your own list of people who shaped your life, I bet that there would be at least a handful of teachers on that list.  I'm pretty confident in saying that no matter who you are or where you come from, you can name at LEAST a handful of of teachers from your life.

How grateful I am for having these men and women educate me?  I don't know if I said thank you.  I probably did.  I'm saying thank you now, even though several of them are no longer alive and most of them will never even know that I wrote this.  I'm putting it out there.

I say thank you to the teachers in my son's life.  Those who push him and challenge him.  Those who have taken the little boy and helped shape him into the young man that he now is. (And I can name them all too.  Shouldn't we all be able to name the people who are so central to what our children are and what they can become?)

I say thank you to the teachers who WILL be in my son's life.  As he continues to grow and learn, I hope that some day he will look back as I have and have his own list of names and memories.

As this is Teacher Appreciation week, let me say to ALL teachers:  THANK YOU!   I know you are underfunded and all too often underappreciated.  Keep doing what you do and maybe one day our leaders (the ones that you are molding right this very minute) will change that.


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