Saturday, November 5, 2011

Those Who Can

Most of us end up with no more than five or six people who remember us. Teachers have thousands of people who remember them for the rest of their lives. ~Andy Rooney

I think this quote by Andy Rooney is a much more intelligent quote than the one by George Bernard Shaw; "He who can, does; He who cannot, teaches." It just makes no sense to me. Someone had to teach you how to do what you do, so you can't just "do," you first have to be taught how to "do." 

Teachers have made a huge impact on my life. I mean, I'm married to a teacher, so I guess that shows how much I love and support teachers. I was a preschool teacher then later a preschool music teacher for a while. I hope I made an impact on the lives of those children. Or if nothing else, I hope I didn't screw them up too badly. Time will tell.

My mother wanted to be a teacher. Instead she became a teacher to her children. So in a sense, she did become a teacher. She was my first teacher. I can't explain the impact my mother has had on my life. Who would I be without her?

My kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Hope, was a very kind, soft-spoken woman. I don't remember much from kindergarten, but I do remember her kind eyes and gentle voice. For first grade I had Mrs. Oberbillig, for second grade Miss Hallbrook, for third grade Mrs. Ryun, for fourth grade Miss Grabill, for fifth grade Mrs. Wheeler and for sixth grade Mr. Reeves. 

I remember Miss Grabill being a wonderful person. She encouraged me and made me love school. She helped me find a place where I felt welcomed. I'd have to say she was my favorite in elementary school. There were others of whom I have fond memories, but none the likes of Loah Grabill. 

On the other side of the coin, I was never sure what to think of Mrs. Wheeler. She scared the crap out of me while smiling the entire time. I can't think of a thing negative to say about her, just that she instilled a general feeling of fear in me. I can think of many negative things to say about Mr. Wright, but I won't. I had him for science, I think. I just know he gave me the creeps and he was a horribly unfair teacher. I received my first bad grade in his class in 5th grade, and it all stemmed from a confrontation I had with him that today may have cost him his teaching license. He was well dressed, yes. But it doesn't matter what he wore, he was a dirty old man.    

Junior high was liberating for me. Very few kids I went to elementary school with attended the same junior high that I did. I needed that. They all saw me as a skinny, gangly pre-adolescent with horrible acne and the inability to sit still.  I matured some over 7th grade and when I was forced back into a school with them in 8th grade, it was a little better. I won't say it was great, but it was a little better. 

Apart from the generally horrible social issues, I had some teachers who were incredible. Mr. Hansen in 8th grade was both my home room teacher as well as my science teacher. He was a down to earth person who treated everyone equally and had an incredibly deadpan sense of humor. Mr. J. Wilson was my 9th grade Algebra teacher, who helped me realize that I could understand math after two years of teachers who had made me feel like I couldn't. (He was the one and only, because my high school math teachers kicked me right back into that gutter again.)

Mr. Atkinson was our business teacher. One of the things he taught us was typing (no kids, not computers, but actual typing!) It was a valuable skill to learn and I feel sorry for the kids who did not take it seriously. He was a very unique individual who didn't allow nonsense, but instilled in you the importance of what he was teaching you. (He also made us cut our fingernails so we could type better, and told us the only fingernail that needed to be long was our pinky nail, and that was only if we were snorting coke.)

Mrs. Pratt and Mr. Eller were my English teachers in 8th and 9th grade and I had long understood that I enjoyed English more than any other subject. They both made an impact on me as a young person, each in their own way. I never have had the opportunity to diagram sentences, despite the numerous times these two forced us to do so. I'm still waiting. 

High school brought me a plethora of teachers who made a positive impact on my life. Thank goodness the ones that did were there, because if I had to base my high school career on Mr. Wickam, Mr. Martin and Mr. Cebuhar, I'd probably have a very negative remembrance of those days. 

Thankfully I was blessed with Mrs. White, Mr. Hendricks, Ms. Kauffman, Mr. Ortale, Mrs. Fisher, Mr. Blenderman, Mrs. Weir and Mr. Kent to fill me with wonderful memories and a plethora of knowledge. 

Most importantly, they made me believe in me. I think that's what I miss most about being in school. Some teachers have a way of knowing when a child needs built up inside. Not all teachers, mind you. Teachers are just like the general population; some have the ability to know what a child needs beyond the lesson plans, and some do not. 

Who will I remember more: Andy Rooney or George Bernard Shaw? Andy Rooney, of course. Who will I remember fondly for being much more than a teacher? Mrs. Hope, Mrs. Oberbillig, Miss Hallbrook, Mrs. Ryun, Miss Grabill, Mr. Hansen, Mr. Eller, Mrs. White, Mr. Hendricks, Ms. Kauffman, Mr. Ortale, Mrs. Fisher, Mr. Blenderman, Mrs. Weir and Mr. Kent

Who do YOU remember? 


  1. Mrs. Cort (Porter), Mr. Suggett, Mrs. Sandburn, Mr. Hakeman, Mr. Elrod, Mr. Vandehaar, Mrs. Tremble, Mr. Stalter, Mr. Fleming, Rocky Graziano, Dr. Marshall, Mary Swenson

  2. Mr. - Pedersen (Ag), Dolecheck (Ag), Graves (Chem), Lampe and Twombley (Band), Gall (PE/Coach), Ridout (Coach), Burgraff (Coach), Cannon / Lowe / Johnson / Riley -- and of course the teachers at the school of Eddy and the school of farm life.

    Mrs. - Miss - Ms. Creese, Lonna (Who always went by her first name), Kelso, et al.

    There were many others - some remembered for what I learned and some for what I detested.

    Nice blog.