Alchemical Thoughts

QotD: World Teachers’ Day

Posted on: October 5, 2007

Prompt: In honor of World Teachers' Day today, tell us about a teacher who had a positive impact on your life.

I had no idea that today was World Teachers' Day, but here it goes. I have been fortunate that I have had some good teachers who had a positive impact on my life. I think the earliest I can go back was my 5th grade English teacher, Mrs. Velez. She was just one of the nicest teachers a boy could have. Later in middle school, I was educated by De La Salle Brothers. These were probably amongst the best teachers I ever had. To this day, I give credit to them for a lot of my values and lessons learned. Even though I am not particularly religious, the education they gave me helped to put me on the path of a lifelong learner. The Christian Brothers are probably the most dedicated teachers I have seen, and I think their influence had a role in me becoming a teacher. I went on to become a public school teacher, a job I did for three years before I went on to graduate school and then librarianship. Even as a librarian, I chose the path of teaching becoming an instruction librarian. From the Christian Brothers I learned dedication, discipline, and caring for my students. Brother Eugenio taught math and algebra. Brother Cesar taught religion and art. He also taught penmanship. I may be one of the last generations who actually got graded on penmanship. I will say this. To this day, some people praise me for my handwriting for it being neat. It is a lost art. My daughter in school now. . .well,  you can tell they don't teach penmanship anymore. Her handwriting is not very neat. There is more emphasis on typing on a keyboard I think, but in my view, you lose some skill in things like taking notes and just making a small list.

Sadly for me, we moved, and I finished my high school someplace else. In college, I had a few good professors. Dr. Rocio del Pilar taught a course on Hispanic Culture, and it was one of the classes that turned me towards my teaching major. Dr. Ohlgren (I hope I spelled his name right; it's been years) made Chaucer and medieval literature fun as well as interesting. In graduate school, for my English masters, Dr. Maude Jennings was probably the best teacher. She had high expectations, but more importantly, she was passionate about her subject, and she cared about her students. Not many professors take the time to get to know students and nurture their interests. She did it very well.

I have named a few teachers, but I have to say that I also learned a thing or two from the teachers who may not have been as effective or competent in the classroom. We could say they served me as negative examples, illustrations of what I did not want to be when I became a teacher. In that regard, I thank them as well now, though I will say I may not have been as thankful then.

In the end, teaching is a hard profession. At the school level, it is often a thankless job where a lot of bureaucrats who would never dream of doing the job tell you what to do. So, as a former school teacher, I have a strong admiration for the good ones that decide to continue teaching in public schools in spite of the challenges. College teaching also has its challenges. So, on this Teachers' Day, I want to thank all those who had an impact on my life, who educated me, and helped me become an educator myself. I can only hope to put some of your good lessons to practice.

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October 2007
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