Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Teacher Appreciation Day

From the youngest age, I wanted to be a teacher.  I would play school at home, lining my dolls up and teaching.  I'd play school in the Coliseum while my Mom had cheerleading practice. I'd play school in the swimming pool on vacations, having swimming contests with pretend students. My best friend and I played school when we were older, writing fake names in old textbooks we had at home and changing classes.  I'd write and write, poems, mostly.  Funny... I don't remember voluntarily doing any math...

Part of that enthusiasm for school came because my Mom was a teacher and my Grandma was a teacher.  I grew up around the school system, and spent many an extra hour there as Mom coached cheerleading.  I admired teachers and their hard work, their perfect penmanship, their compassion and caring.

And the rest of that enthusiasm came from some really great teachers.  I don't think I'll be able to remember all of them, but Robbi Ramsey got me started off in kindergarten.  I painstakingly glued pictures and copied letters and words for my kindergarten scrapbook... but my penmanship definitely was not that of a teacher.  Cathy Hollon was my first grade teacher and I remember getting my first spanking from her at school.  I'm sure I deserved many more.  Then there was Jayne Deaton Risner.  Jayne was my second grade teacher and fostered a love for reading in me. I was her flower girl and I never will forget she treated me to books at the Dayton Mall the next summer when we went up to meet her.  Sarah Plain and Tall... which was wonderful. Third grade I had Gladys Turner, who encouraged my creativity when my friend Elesha and I decided to write a book, The Haunted something another... complete with childish illustrations.  Fourth and fifth grade I had Ruth Haddix, and was introduced to working at your own pace... and actually worked ahead in Math.

Sixth grade I started at SMS and had numerous teachers from then on out.  Some of them that I remember with a fond smile include Mattie Ruth Riley, who sang good morning to us every morning of our lives with genuine joy and happiness;  Don Napier, who taught me in seventh grade to go above and beyond what was expected;  Jack Strong, who was full of music and laughter and helped produce our first music video, complete with a classmate singing Pink Floyd's Another Brick in the Wall; and Debbie DeHoag, whose confidence in me made me feel like I was a star even when I wasn't, and who continued to believe in me all through my high school years, encouraging me and believing in me... and I could go on and on. 

High school brought class changes and more homework and the realization that college was not that far off.  Teachers like Addie Murphy taught me grace and kindness.  I never will forget the time when I was in sixth or seventh grade.  We were at a Regional tournament in Knott County and Breathitt had lost, and I was mad.  I was behaving rather unseemingly, and Mrs. Murphy called me on it.  I have forever more respected her, and think of her when I want to yell at a referee (and sometimes apologize in my head when I do yell at a referee).  I had Mrs. Murph for freshman English and for Journalism, and what a classy lady she is.
Teachers like Lavonne Hubbard, who taught me that oftentimes when someone is hard on you, it is only because they care about you and want the best for you. Mrs. Hubbard made me her target my sophomore year, when she would pick out books for me to read, even though I didn't actually have her until my junior year.  That year, she expected me to have my homework done and if I failed to do so, she promptly sent me across the hallway to my Mother. 
Teachers like Joannie Gross Gillum, who encouraged me through Algebra and Precalculus and Calculus, sang to us and pushed us and made me work hard... and while Math is still by far my least favorite subject, she made it fun.
Teachers like my Journalism teacher, Annette Coomer, who provided me and my classmates with a good place to eat lunch and taught by example... plus, she's got to be great because she's a Steelers fan!

College brought more good teachers.  One of the benefits of going to a small community college is that it truly does have a personal touch.  This was evident when I wanted to take calculus and anatomy... both 4 credit hour classes that would overlap.  My calculus teacher, Mrs. Pennington-Price, agreed to meet with me outside of my class time so that I could complete both courses. Ms. Mary Jo Rudd, my communications teacher, was always there with a smile on her face.  My English teacher Joyce Harding was a tough teacher, whose papers came back marked up in red, but she was truly one of my favorites. 

Then, my nursing instructors.  Jean Deaton... who talked me into pursuing nursing education.  She believed in me enough to not just ask me once, but to ask me multiple times.  Getting to teach with some of my former teachers has been awesome as well. 

Teachers truly do touch lives, and I'm honored to join the leagues of these awesome individuals listed above.  I hope that I can impact others only a smidgeon of how they have blessed me.  If you're reading this, thank a teacher... because sometimes it is a thankless job.  Hats off to each of you!

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