In honor of National Teacher Appreciation Week…
While my job title says I’m a teacher, I don’t really think I properly fill those shoes. Instead, I consider myself to be a life-long learner. I have a passion for learning. In fact, you could probably say that “learning” is a hobby of mine.
Since this week (May 2 – 6) is dedicated to appreciating teachers, here’s a brief shout-out of gratitude to some of my own educators:
Miss Phyllis, Miss Terry, and Miss Jackie at Lollipop Campus Daycare and Preschool; Sebree, Kentucky — words cannot describe my experience at Lollipop Campus. I credit my ability to read at a young age to the Time-Out chair there. You think I’m kidding? Hanging on the wall, next to the chair, was a fire extinguisher. I read the warning label all by myself! In fact, I read it on a daily basis. Other days, multiple times. I was a sweet, sweet child. I wish I had a penny for every time I sat in that damn chair.
Kindergarten — I don’t remember my teacher’s name but she had blonde hair and hid alphabet characters in the cabinet. I’ve been afraid of closet monsters since day “A.”
Ms. Hodges, first grade — MEAN RED-HEADED WOMAN!!!!!!!! Ms. Hodges would get so frustrated with me because I was bossy (me? gasp!) to other students and refused to use a pencil eraser. Instead of erasing mistakes, I would start completely over. Is that a symptom of OCD?! I remember celebrating Dr. Seuss’s birthday by eating green eggs and ham. The local TV station, WFIE, came to school with their cameras. I very eloquently said, in a loud voice (next to the camera AND microphone), “EWWWW!!!!” I made my parents so proud. I wonder what happened to that VHS tape? Wait, who has a VCR?
Mrs. Knight, second grade — I’ll be honest, this woman scared me to death but one thing for: I respected her. Today, I respect and appreciate her stern guidance even more. I knew whatever I did (or didn’t do) would get back to my parents in a moment’s notice. Mrs. Knight and her husband, Bob, were friends of my parents and grandparents. She’s a “friend” on Facebook. My, how the times have changed!
Mrs. Moffett, third grade — I loved reading in Mrs. Moffett’s class. She let us sit/lay anywhere in the room for at least 40 – yeah FORTY – minutes EVERY single day. My favorite reading nook was under a desk. It was dark and cozy. I admit: I fell asleep a few times. But I still managed to read Island of Blue Dolphins – twice!
Mrs. Crowder, fourth grade — awww, Mrs. Crowder, what a sweet lady. Her oldest son, Justin, and I were in the same grade together. Let’s ride down memory lane for a moment. Remember the days when kids played outside until dark and you only had a couple of channels on the TV? Well, if my Mom or Dad were running late to pick me up from school, I’d go home with the Crowders. Nowadays, you have to pee in a cup, provide a hair sample, and scan your fingerprint to get your child.
Mrs. Shemwell, fifth grade — I scored my first 100 on a social studies test in her class. The test covered the 13 colonies – my favorite time period in America’s history. Perhaps this is where my love of social studies and history resonates?
Mrs. Mabry, sixth grade — Mrs. Mabry challenged me, inspired me, and pushed me to be better than the expectations I set for myself. I remember failing a simple geography worksheet because I did not carefully read the directions. In the most sincere but serious voice she said, “I’m disappointed in you, Nicole.” I read directions now. Twice. Graduation day at Robards Elementary was a very sad day for me. I cried knowing that my time in Robards was over. I was also anxious about moving to a new school and being away from the people I knew and loved. You must realize something: I sat in class with the same 12 people for seven years – we completed K-6 grades together! Standing in the girls’ bathroom, crying like a maniac, Mrs. Mabry held my hands, looked me straight in the eye and said, “Nicole, you’re going to be fine!” I cried harder. Guess who’s my friend on Facebook now?!
Mrs. Gillespie and Mrs. Hopgood, high school math — Let’s be honest here. I can balance a checkbook, figure my golf score, and calculate the price of an item with a 60% discount….but linear equations? You gotta be kidding! Math is NOT my strength. However, Mrs. Gillespie and Mrs. Hopgood refused to give me the easy road. They were tough on me! Along with their toughness, they were incredibly compassionate and willing to help me understand foreign concepts called geometry, algebra, and calculus. I still have the handwritten letter Mrs. Hopgood gave me at graduation. Mrs. Gillespie is also very special. In fact, my husband put her atop a pedestal during our wedding in 2007. She catered our reception and made his groom’s cake, which Kevin called a very-yummy-knock-your-socks-off-chocolate-dream-topped-with-dipped-strawberries-cake. It was a serious cake. She even had ice-cold milk in antique jugs sitting on the table. She’s such a sweetheart!
Coach Eric Hogg, former football coach at Webster County High School — He continues to teach me to live every day to its fullest and hold your loved one close. Coach Hogg suffered a fatal heart attack during Project Graduation, just hours after I received my high school diploma.
Ms. Catlett, honors English teacher, athletic coordinator, yearbook sponsor — How does one express gratitude to someone who makes such an impact on their life? Not a day goes by that I don’t think of Ms. Catlett. Even when I walk into my own classroom, I’m thinking of ways to inspire my students and help them reach beyond their potential. I believe all of Ms. Catlett’s students are better people because of their experience in her classroom.
Dr. Bridges, journalism department chair at TAMU-Commerce — Dr. Bridges is one of a kind. His handwriting is awful and I never understood the comments he wrote in my Blue Book for tests. What does “OK” mean?! I passed media law because my best friend and roommate-at-the-time, Kimberly, is a genius. Kim and I were both public relations majors and had numerous classes with a collection of very opinionated, strong-willed, and passionate souls that occasionally (FREQUENTLY) got on each other’s nerves. Instead of playing referee or being a disciplinarian, Dr. Bridges left us alone. “Welcome to the real world!” he would say. “Work it out amongst yourselves. And for God’s sake, don’t involve me!” We all sobbed when Dr. Bridges announced his stomach cancer diagnosis. But, in true Dr. Bridges fashion, he defeated the disease and continues to educate (and entertain with his dry sense of humor) students at A&M-Commerce.
To all educators — teachers, friends, parents, mentors, leaders — I’m so appreciative for your lessons today and every day.