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Old 05-26-2018, 09:16 PM
Northern Piper Northern Piper is online now
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Thanking a teacher you never had the chance to thank

Scene: Grade 11 Biology class in a little town in Saskatchewan, shortly after the Earth cooled.

At the blackboard:

Mr Brian Fedak, biology teacher: "So, when you have a homogenous population..."

Conrad, the class clown, makes chuckling noises to his friend.

Mr Fedak: "Conrad, why are you laughing?"

Conrad [smirking]: You said 'homo', Mr Fedak."

Mr Fedak: "Yes I did Conrad. So why are you laughing?"

Conrad [a bit uncertainly, but still smirking]: "It's a funny word, Mr Fedak."

Mr Fedak: "No, Conrad, it's a word with a certain scientific meaning. It's a also a word that is used to make fun of some people. It's not going to be used to make fun of people in this classroom. Got it?"

Conrad [starting to get the message he's in trouble, but not knowing why]: "Yes, Mr Fedak."

Mr Fedak: "Now, as I was saying, in certain homogenous populations..."

Still remember it all these years later, and wish I could thank you in person, Mr Fedak, for setting the example of correcting bigotry. No major fuss, but firmly.

So if you ever do a vanity search on the inter-tubes (and if you're still with us ), "Thanks, Mr Fedak!"

Last edited by Northern Piper; 05-26-2018 at 09:17 PM.
Old 05-26-2018, 09:23 PM
Northern Piper Northern Piper is online now
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Missed the edit window: just realised I may be spelling his name wrong. I think there was a "y" in there. "Brian Fydak" maybe?
Old 05-26-2018, 11:41 PM
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Roderick Femm Roderick Femm is offline
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My 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Melson (yes, that's with an M). She was always fair and even-tempered, even kind at times, but she was absolutely rigorous about how we 8-year-olds would behave in school. She taught me a lot about self-discipline by expecting us to behave well without constant monitoring and punishment. Alas, I think she would be around 120 if she were still alive, so I don't think she'll be reading this.

Then there was my 4th grade teacher, Miss Smith (she got married late in the school year and left the school). She introduced me to the world of JRR Tolkien by reading The Hobbit to the class for 20 minutes every afternoon. I am forever grateful.
Old 05-27-2018, 01:03 AM
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My teacher when I was about 8 used to live near to my house. We (me and my friend) used to turn up on her doorstep on the weekends and she'd invite us in and give us a cool drink and a biscuit. I can't remember much detail about our visits or what we talked about, but the thing I do remember is that she never made me feel like "just a child". I try not to "talk down to" little kids and I'm sure it's because of her. She also used to go in early at school and we could read to her and she'd help the kids having trouble with their reading. Her kindness made an impression on me, but I just moved on and up at school and never gave her any formal acknowledgment for something that meant a lot to me.
Old 05-27-2018, 01:12 AM
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raventhief raventhief is online now
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My 4th grade teacher gave me a book, island of the blue dolphins, after my mother died. It meant the world to me.
Old 05-27-2018, 01:16 AM
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Beckdawrek Beckdawrek is offline
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My advanced English class in 12th grade the Teacher was an elderly Ms. Arnold. She was talked out of retirement to teach this new class. The first thing out of her mouth was "Don't make me sorry I came back to teach this class" I certainly tried not to disappoint her. It was a great year and a wonderful class. Thank you Ms.Arnold.
Old 05-27-2018, 02:24 AM
BobBitchin' BobBitchin' is offline
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Robert Shanks.

Wood shop teacher. An actual honest to god craftsman, gave up the cabinet shop to teach.

A Hank Hill character with just enough R lee Ermy to deal with us idiots.

He used to stand by the door to see who was too "relaxed" to use the power tools.

Taught me tons of general "shop/job site" stuff that has been invaluable for years.

Coors to you, you ol bastard.

Last edited by BobBitchin'; 05-27-2018 at 02:27 AM.
Old 05-27-2018, 03:00 AM
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tripthicket tripthicket is offline
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Fifth grade, student teacher acting under the guidance of our regular teacher (internship?). Ms. Robinson, can't recall her first name, and this was right around the time Simon & Garfunkel were making that name famous on the radio, though I knew nothing of that. She read to us, during the first half of the school year, the book that really opened the doors of my imagination: A Wrinkle In Time.

Thank you for awakening the greatest part of me. I hope your life was long and happy.
Old 05-27-2018, 03:07 AM
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Bullitt Bullitt is offline
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Mike Healy, 6th grade, 1971, Latham NY at Latham Ridge Elementary (he now says I can call him Mike instead of Mr. Healy). He made learning fun, he cared, he listened, and he gave you his honest opinion. My favorite-ever teacher.

Thank you, Mr. Healy. You helped make me the man I am today. I hope you can look back on your career with pride and happiness.
Old 05-27-2018, 07:11 AM
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FairyChatMom FairyChatMom is online now
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Mr. McGuire - 9th grade general science (1968/69 school year) - He was the tops in connecting science with everyday real life.

When we studied the internal combustion engine, he had us (in teams) take apart and reassemble lawn mower engines. Then one day, he brought in a go cart and we took turns driving it around the campus.

We built and shot off Estes rockets.

We threw eggs - your grade was based on how well you packaged the egg and its condition when he unwrapped it.

He distilled fermented orange juice down to very high proof alcohol, and anyone who wanted could get an eyedropper squirt of the stuff to see what it was like (Imagine that happening today!!!)

So much more that I don't recall. But he kindled my interest in science and mechanics. Maybe I'd have become an engineer without having known him, but maybe not... Thanks!!!
Old 05-27-2018, 07:36 AM
Baker Baker is offline
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Mr. Charles Bradbury, sixth grade teacher, 1966-1967. I was in his first class. He was young and enthusiastic and he liked fantasy and science fiction literature. He read us a chapter of The Hobbit every day until it was done. From there I went on to read the rest of the LOTR and tons of other fantasy and speculative fiction. Went to cons and met people and did things I wouldn't have otherwise.

He had nerve too. The summer after the class was over he got married and invited all of us to his wedding. I felt so grown up going to the wedding, first time I wore stockings and I even had gloves! Spent a whole $7.00 on a wedding present.

Best teacher I ever had.
Old 05-27-2018, 11:22 AM
aceplace57 aceplace57 is online now
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Mr Post taught my 9th Grade Civics class in the early 70's.

He was the first teacher that I connected with. He was not much older than us and had enthusiasm and fresh ideas.

This wasn't very far removed from the sixties and I always assumed he was part of the student movement in college.

He certainly made Civics relevant and interesting.

I bumped into him at Walgreens a few years after high school. I did get to briefly talk and thank him. I've always wanted to see him again and catch up. See how long he taught and what he's doing today.

Last edited by aceplace57; 05-27-2018 at 11:25 AM.
Old 05-27-2018, 11:45 AM
DummyGladHands DummyGladHands is offline
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Woody (Mr.) Page, 7th grade algebra in a small shit stain school in Western PA. He LOVED his algebra. We groaned. He made it fun, so much fun that we would make up equations to play with at lunch time. I took 2 years of algebra because of him. And I am so not a math person.
And for everyone that says "after school I've never used algebra once," - you're full of shit. You probably use it everyday.
Old 05-27-2018, 01:09 PM
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Ají de Gallina Ají de Gallina is offline
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Mr. Arroyo (El profesor Arroyo) . 5th grade Social Studies. He made classes so interesting that we didn't want to go to recess. He died the year after he taught us. When I started teaching I tried to copy his methods.
Old 05-27-2018, 01:28 PM
Shinna Minna Ma Shinna Minna Ma is offline
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Mrs. Wildstein, my third grade teacher.

She turned me into a voracious reader, and I thank her every day.

Mrs. Wildstein read to us every day from Roald Dahl's books - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, James and the Giant Peach, Fantastic Mr. Fox. I asked my parents to buy these books for me, and my reading just took off from there.

This would have been way back in the 70/71 school year.
Old 05-27-2018, 02:44 PM
FinsToTheLeft FinsToTheLeft is offline
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Mr. Boetto, the school librarian at my public school in Toronto during grades 4-6 (79-82).

He was responsible for the computers - Commodore PETs and CBMs FTW! - as well as enrichment programs since gifted was not available in my area until grade 7 at the time. His work helped me to learn critical thinking and logic at an early age, and was probably the single biggest reason I ended up as an IT entrepreneur.

So Lee Boetto, thank you if you are reading this!
Old 05-27-2018, 03:05 PM
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Crafter_Man Crafter_Man is online now
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Since I was eight years old I have wanted to be a scientist or engineer. All through elementary school and high school, though, there were very few science teachers that inspired me. Most just seemed to be going through the motions. My primary inspiration at the time was The Professor on Gilligan's Island.

And then came 12th grade physics. It was taught by a gentleman named Alba Hurlbut. It was the most difficult class I had ever taken up to that point, but I loved it. Mr. Hurlbut was an engineer and retired Air Force colonel, and had a genuine passion for science, math, and (especially) physics. He was the only teacher I encountered for whom I had an immense amount of respect for.

Last year I tracked him down. He's 83 years old and lives in Dayton, OH. I couldn't figure out how to email him, so I sent him a letter in the mail. I included my contact info. He's never responded.
Old 05-27-2018, 03:21 PM
CairoCarol CairoCarol is offline
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Mrs. Garcia, my 4th grade teacher at Willow Brook Elementary School in Creve Coeur, Missouri. This would have been the school year 1967/68. She was quite young so although she would certainly be retired by now, there is a decent chance she's still around.

I was a ... peculiar ... student, and she was very kind to me. Because of her encouragement, I wrote an entire chapbook of poetry and bound it together.

She read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to us (a pretty good find, since the book had only recently been published). I still remember how she drew out the suspense of whether Charlie's final chocolate bar contained a winning ticket. Absolute magic.
If I waited for memory to serve, I'd starve.
Old 05-27-2018, 08:15 PM
Kropotkin Kropotkin is offline
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Mrs. Larson, (Larsen?) grade 4, I think 1964-5? Music teacher who was really into the current folk music scene. I'm still singing songs we learned then. And she was cool about explaining the meanings, many of which were "So, in this sing, Tom Dooley is going to be hanged for murdering his girl friend by STABBING HER WITH HIS KNIFE! Oh, and when you keelhaul the drunken sailor in a running bowline, that's like a noose that tightens as he's dragging across the barnacles on the bottom of the ship, while of course just about drowning at the same time. Now, the Midnight Special...." She was tough, but fair....
Old 05-27-2018, 08:50 PM
DooWahDiddy DooWahDiddy is offline
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I was feeling particularly nostalgic one day and actually called my English teacher, Mrs. Hodge, 25 years after I had taken her class. She always reminded me of the granny that kept Tweety Bird. I wanted to thank her for being kind to me, and for imparting a love of the English language on to me.

I nervously explained who I was and why I was calling, and she said, "Oh, that's very sweet. But, you know, after you guys leave I don't remember any of you."

So, that was how that went.
Old 05-28-2018, 03:26 AM
Nava Nava is offline
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Our music teacher, Mother Ribas, wasn't really very good as a teacher (sorry, Mother), but our year was... special. She always told us we drover her crazy, specially my class and group D (we were separated in 4 groups, by alphabetical order; I was group C). We had people who were taking official Conservatory lessons, a tone-deaf guy who eventually became a percussionist, and a bunch of people who were neither very good nor very bad but who didn't gain much from practicing more, since the practice wasn't really guided individually (see "not really very good as a teacher").

So when we were prepping for some show and once we'd run through the number twice we'd start running over it. We'd experiment. What happens if I shift it half a tone; what happens if I go faster or slower; how does it sound if I mark each note separately or if I try to blend them as much as possible. Now picture 40 kids each doing his own experiment at the same time.

And then the show would come up and we'd hit it note-perfect. And afterward she'd be pulling her very-short hair and tell us we drove her crazy, nobody did as badly in the rehearsals as we did and nobody did as well in the actual show.

We though she told the same to everybody. Turns out she didn't. We really drove her nuts. OooooOOOOoooops, SO-RREEEEE!

I'll never be able to play correctly anything more complicated than palms, but just having those three years of solfege and flute did my ears a world of good. If it hadn't been for that, I doubt they would have been good for more than holding up my glasses.

Last edited by Nava; 05-28-2018 at 03:28 AM.
Old 05-28-2018, 09:32 AM
Iggy Iggy is offline
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Srta Layne Jessie, Spanish I and II, in the late 80s.

I was convinced that I was only taking a foreign language to meet a university entrance requirement and would never use it again. But life has a funny way of challenging my assumptions and about 15 years later I met the future Mrs Iggy while on vacation in Colombia. I hurriedly bought a translation dictionary and fell back on Srta Jessie's grammar lessons from years before. And somehow it all worked out.

So that mere formality of a university entrance requirement became the most important classes I ever took. And now my Spanish language skills are playing a major role in my life, both at home and professionally.
Old 05-28-2018, 11:22 AM
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Mean Mr. Mustard Mean Mr. Mustard is offline
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My second grade teacher who, if alive today, would be approaching 100, honed in on my interest in reading and brought me book after book after book to read. So often, after class, she would say, "I have another one for you".

Thanks, Mrs. C.

Old 05-29-2018, 08:20 AM
DesertDog DesertDog is offline
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Originally Posted by Shinna Minna Ma View Post
Mrs. Wildstein, my third grade teacher.

She turned me into a voracious reader, and I thank her every day.
Mrs. Downs, 4th grade teacher, ditto. I was already a reader, having been raised by readers, but she cemented the already-there tendency by taking a period each day to read to us, advanced stuff for ten-year-olds, like Kon Tiki.

She also instilled a certain sense of logic. I remember asking to change a dime for two nickles (the Scholastic Book lady was short on change) and she demanded, "Why should I give you these two big nickles for that crummy little dime?" I answered about how the silver in the dime was intrinsically more valuable than the copper and nickel in the nickles. Not sure how I'd answer today, mumble something about expected value, I suppose.
Old 05-29-2018, 09:36 AM
Dragwyr Dragwyr is offline
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When I was in High School, I took Latin I with the hopes of taking Latin II the next year, but I found out that Latin II was not going to be offered due to lack of interest. I wanted to make sure that I took at least 2 years of a language to make myself more attractive on my college applications, so my junior year, I took Spanish with Mrs. Hoikka. She was awesome! She was a great teacher and really knew how to make learning Spanish fun. She always had fun projects for us. She also had a great sense of humor.

One day in Spanish II she decided she was going to play this game with us. The game was that everyone in class, including her, had to speak only Spanish. The catch was that if anyone spoke English, they would receive the hall pass... and if anyone else spoke English, the pass would move to that person. It would continue that way during class and whoever ended up with the pass at the end of class would get an extra homework assignment. So it went this way for awhile and a few people, including myself, messed up and spoke English, and the pass moved around from person. Then my friend, Charlie, said (in English) that he had to go to the bathroom, so Mrs. Hoikka let him go. When he returned, he had this huge grin on his face, so my friends and I knew he was up to something. Then a few minutes later, a the front office secretary came in on the loudspeaker for the room and said, "Mrs. Hoikka," and she responded, "Yes?" Then the voice said, "Gotcha!". We all cracked up, because she ended up with the pass at the end of the hour and nobody got extra homework. She laughed along with us.

That was the kind of teacher she was, and we absolutely loved her.

Old 05-29-2018, 10:34 AM
RTFirefly RTFirefly is offline
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I'm one of those weird people who doesn't recall any K-12 teachers who made a big difference in his life.

So a shout-out to Dr. Daniel Farkas of Virginia Tech (he's been Emeritus for the past dozen years) who taught the baby analysis course I took there back in the early 1980s. He made all the epsilons understandable. Cauchy sequences, Bolzano-Weierstrass, open covers and finite subcovers - I understood all that on account of him.
Old 05-29-2018, 11:06 AM
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Knowed Out Knowed Out is online now
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Mrs. Bates, Trigonometry

I was one of 6-7 seniors taking the course. The rest were juniors. She made the course interesting, treated us like adults, and never had any disciplinary problems with us. On the day of final exams, she had all the seniors move up to the front row. Our exam was different from the juniors'. Ours was full of joke questions, and we kept breaking out laughing. The juniors were befuddled, but she kept mum and never let on. I still remember trig concepts to this day, as well as the true art of the prank.
Old 05-29-2018, 01:02 PM
Edward The Head Edward The Head is offline
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Originally Posted by DooWahDiddy View Post
I was feeling particularly nostalgic one day and actually called my English teacher, Mrs. Hodge, 25 years after I had taken her class. She always reminded me of the granny that kept Tweety Bird. I wanted to thank her for being kind to me, and for imparting a love of the English language on to me.

I nervously explained who I was and why I was calling, and she said, "Oh, that's very sweet. But, you know, after you guys leave I don't remember any of you."

So, that was how that went.
I wouldn't be surprised if she did remember you and just didn't want to say. My ex-father-in-law was a high school teacher and he remembers people 30 years later. I ran in to one of his students and he came up somehow and she told me to say hi to him. He still remembered her.

I tried my hand at subbing and was at my old middle school 15 years after I had gotten out and some of the teachers remembered me. Hell one remembered me and I couldn't remember who HE was.
Old 05-29-2018, 01:40 PM
kopek kopek is offline
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I had two teachers who were very important in my life and I got to thank both while they were still alive; one still is for that matter and I thank him at least once a year.

The oldest one who I will call Miss Elder (because that was her name) I saw in a local restaurant several years after High School. I thanked her for all she had taught me; not just about English language and literature but about what a good person can do and what makes someone worthwhile to society at large. I also snuck her check and covered it without her knowing (although she would be ashamed of me now 40 years later for still using the word "snuck").
Old 05-30-2018, 03:58 PM
CelticKnot CelticKnot is offline
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Location: BackHome again in Indiana
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Mrs. Marks, 6th grade science, West Middle School 79-80.
Not so much a thank you as letting her know that I got what I deserved. I was a rotten student, because I was bored to tears in all my classes. I would read all the "Little House" books under my desk when the class was reading the text or Mrs. Marks was lecturing. I got C's in school because I did well on tests but couldn't be bothered to do homework.
How did I get what I deserved? Now I'm a teacher, tearing my hair out over students who don't work up to their potential.

And I teach the turkey salute to all my classes.
Old 06-17-2018, 09:31 PM
I can't think of a name I can't think of a name is offline
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Purely from the title of the thread, the first teacher for me to thank would be my mum because she taught me to read. I've had plenty of chances to thank her though, and have. I joke that it was self defence on her part - I had about a bazillion questions and teaching me to read was the only way she could get a break from them I spent many an hour looking things up in books. We had ~3000 books at home when I was a little boy, which was great. No web in those days, so books were the only source available at any time.

I have unfortunately forgotten the name of the first formal teacher I'd like to thank because I didn't realise his importance until much later. My O level maths teacher. One day in his class algebra "clicked" for me and I properly understood how to solve quadratic equations. I was rather pleased...and so was he. He'd been teaching maths to children for many years. He must have seen the same thing a thousand times, but it still pleased him.

I remember the name of another teacher I would have liked to thank. Mr Sandyford, who taught Latin (classical Latin and vulgar Latin, to be more precise). It was mandatory at my school to do 5 years of either Latin or ancient Greek. I'd chosen Latin solely because the alphabet was almost the same as English (hardly surprising, since the English alphabet was the Latin alphabet and hasn't changed very much since the switch from Elder Futhark runes to Latin alphabet). I had no interest in Latin at all when I was 11, but Mr Sandyford made Latin interesting by teaching it with enthusiasm and in context as a living language (which of course is what it was to the people who used it), showing the connections between language and society and also teaching us about ancient Roman history, the history of science and all manner of things. All the way from "Cerberus est canis" to philosophers discussing the possible reasons why the level of water in a pond varied a lot over time, making observations and proposing hypotheses. But also graffiti (which was extremely common in ancient Rome), politics, society and, in general, how to study history. I learnt more important things about history in my Latin classes than I did in my history classes.

Last edited by I can't think of a name; 06-17-2018 at 09:34 PM.
Old 06-18-2018, 12:11 PM
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BwanaBob BwanaBob is offline
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I had the same teacher for 1st and 2nd grade (1966-67, she got married between grades so she came back with a different name in 2nd). She was kind and fun to be around.
The spring of 2nd grade I developed peritonitis and sepsis and it was not thought I would survive. She got all the kids to write me get well notes ( I was out for 3 weeks).
We moved that July.

As I grew older I came to really appreciate her.

Swing ahead to around 2001. Internet research is coming to its own and I decide to look her up and thank her. I see she's teaching in a different school but still under the NYC school system. I dig up a school district phone number and call.

I get a sympathetic secretary who unbelievably tells me that Mrs. X is retiring and that today she cleaned out her stuff and had just left about an hour before I called.

I was crestfallen, and asked if she thought the teacher would ever be in touch again. The secretary said she most likely needs to come back one last time to get any mail she missed. She volunteered to pass my best wishes along, (and she took my name).

I like to think she got the thank you.
Go wherever you can be
And live for the day
It's only wear and tear
Old 06-18-2018, 02:34 PM
Sunspace Sunspace is offline
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Grade 10 history! Mr Esler!

I had chosen History of Revolutions instead of boring old Canadian History, so we got to study revolutions, the conditions that form them, and how to tell whether one is imminent. I remember there were seven steps leading to a revolution, and one of them was "people start to mock the establishment", but I don't remember what the other ones were. We studied the American Revolution, the French Revolution, the Chinese Revolution, the Russian Revolution, and the Quiet Revolution.

We were looking at the Chinese Revolution during the time when the Gang of Four was in power after Mao died, so it felt ripped from the headlines. We also learned about Norman Bethune and the Long March. When we were looking at the Russian Revolution, that song Rah Rah Rasputin was popular, so that reinforced the lessons. For the Quiet Revolution, we saw the movie Action by Robin Spry, which was an eye-opener for this English Canadian. Now that I think about it, it wasn't *that* many years after the actual events in Quebec.

Thank you Mr Esler for opening this kid's eyes to history!
Rigardu, kaj vi ekvidos.
Look, and you will begin to see.

Last edited by Sunspace; 06-18-2018 at 02:35 PM.
Old 06-18-2018, 03:04 PM
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ZipperJJ ZipperJJ is offline
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I'd like to thank my social studies/history/government/civics teachers from 7th to 11th grade. I only had 3 different social studies teachers over those 5 years, but I'd like to think they'd be pretty proud of me for becoming a city council member. I never had any specific interest in government, and was neither a bad nor good student in those subjects. But their classes were memorable and did give me the foundation I need to be able to serve as an elected official 20+ years later.
Old 06-18-2018, 05:26 PM
Dendarii Dame Dendarii Dame is online now
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So many teachers, but to name just one: Mr. Abbamont, whom I had for 7th and 8th grade Social Studies, Grammar (I have no idea why he taught that instead of my English teacher), Cursive, and Humor. (Humor was a minicourse.) Unofficially, he taught the value of precision and accuracy, which are vital to me as a writer. He made his students (or me, anyway) care about doing the assignment correctly even if we didn't care about the material.
Old 06-18-2018, 07:29 PM
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digs digs is offline
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Had an excellent Chemistry teacher in high school. Shoutout to Roger "Papa" Voltz...

Fast forward 30 years, I left the state and had just switched careers, to teaching. Was watching my daughter play soccer and one of the other (much younger) dads asked me why. I mentioned that it was all because of a teacher in an unrelated subject, and asked him what he did. He said "I'm a chemistry teacher. Yep [sigh], all because of Papa Voltz..."
Old 06-19-2018, 03:28 PM
Balthisar Balthisar is offline
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Margaret Case, Keewahdin Elementary School, 4th/5th split, then again for 5th. Thanks, Mrs. Case.


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