A small ‘Thank You’ to some of my public school teachers

24 Nov

While “watching” the University of Michigan vs. Ohio State game on television because I am a good and dedicated girlfriend, I read an article in The New Yorker all about education policy and specifically what one woman, Diane Ravitch, sees as the unfortunate effects of No Child Left Behind.  I don’t know too much about this, although obviously I have my opinions, so without more independent research I really don’t want to go on a whole rant-like analysis of the goods and bads of No Child Left Behind and the rise of Charter Schools.  Perhaps I will leave that for another day.  I do, however, want to say one thing:  thank you.  As a product of public education in New Jersey, I would like to take this opportunity to thank a few of the teachers I had growing up who really left their mark.  So, here goes.

Thank you Mrs. Early, my third grade teacher, for showing me that learning can be fun.  Although you were demanding, you made everything interesting, teaching us the importance of art and science in every day life.  And I wrote my first published book, The Attack of the Friendly Aliens, under your tutelage.  It’s destined to be a classic.

Thank you Mrs. Murphy, my 5th grade teacher, for showing me to never judge a person by her reputation.  I was scared when I found out on my last day of the 4th grade that you were going to be my teacher, I even tried to switch out of your class, but I soon learned that being tough is not necessarily a bad thing.

Thank you Mr. Piza, my 7th grade social studies teacher, for teaching us about Africa.  Leading up to your class, and for many years after, the history and relevance of that entire continent was taught as an afterthought.  If it wasn’t for your desire to share with us your interest in African history and current events, I don’t know that I ever would have started thinking about what it said about us in the United States that Africa was not deemed relevant enough to be a focus of our education growing up.  I don’t know that I would have become interested in the things I am interested in today.

Thank you Dr. Jooma, my 9th grade English teacher, for showing me how amazing Shakespeare can really be when you take time to read it and really think about it.  And thank you for giving me a lifelong love of MacBeth.

Thank you Dr. Miron, my 11th grade Algebra II teacher for listening to me when I talked to you about the importance of having a lower level Algebra II class for those of us who just couldn’t keep up.  And thank you for letting me take the class pass/fail after seeing how hard I worked and understanding that without the option of a slower paced class I simply could not do well.  Thank you for your compassion.

Thank you Mr. Palladino, my 12th grade elective teacher, for putting an exclamation point on my interest in the world.  It was you who really taught me to question what I read in the news, to try and see all angles, to think about the possible reasons behind the actions.  It was you who taught me never to point a finger because things are always more complex than we know.

Thank you Mr. Fox for taking the time, even though you weren’t my teacher, to re-explain math concepts to me over and over again even though it probably seemed like I would never understand them.  I am still terrible at math but I know that with a patient instructor I can enjoy it, even if the answers never seem to be right.

I’m sure I missed a few along the way and as they come to mind I will add them to the list.  The point is that these are all people who I think of fondly, if not often.  People who did their jobs with passion, skill and a love of teaching.  People who listened to their students and learned from them.  I don’t know whether, with the new direction of public education, these teachers will be as appreciated in the future as they were in the past and that would be a damn shame.

And also, to all my friends who teach:  thank you for the time, the energy, the work.  I’m sure things are heard right now.  I’m sure it’s not fun being stuck in the middle of this national debate, as you see the federal money to your programs decreasing and people wondering why our students seem to be faring worse.  But if you love it, keep at it.  Who knows, maybe you will be the one to influence a student’s future.

And…cheesiness over.

2 Responses to “A small ‘Thank You’ to some of my public school teachers”

  1. Fred Harris November 24, 2012 at 9:39 pm #

    Lovely. Thanks to Mrs. Edelstein, Mrs. Gibney and my Chemistry teacher, Mr. Prince. Mr Baranoff too.

    • FranklyRebekah November 24, 2012 at 9:42 pm #

      Fred, you read my mind. I was so hoping people would add their thanks to this one. 🙂

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