That special teacher...

I had quite a blow today.

I found out that my favorite high school teacher, the one who left the biggest mark on me passed away today. She was the one who really taught me to write. But she didn’t just teach me to write, she taught me so much more than that. She and I had a lot in common. Humor wise, interest wise… yet I don’t know what to write.

I was looking forward to seeing her this Spring break, I wanted to hug her and go out to lunch just to talk. She had lived an amazing life judging by the stories I had heard, she was a DJ in college, though she never told me her DJ name. She planned to retire in Scotland, to live in a cabin in the quiet of the Scottish moors. She drove all kinds of cars, lived a crazy college life, wrote under pseudonyms and taught high school classes.

And now… she can’t.

I’m in shock. I have the shakes, I cried softly earlier, but the tears have passed and I am left shaking.

I attempted to write a song to her, a memorial in my language but I couldn’t express myself in it. I will write one for her, some day when I am more proficient and fluent in it. She was a major proponent of my language and my world when I began working on it in school.

She had the same humor I did, she kept a small corkboard of stuff behind her desk and I remember noticing just how much of it was stuff from me. She had a picture of Bruce Willis and the kid from The 6th Sense, but instead it said “I see dumb people…” or the modified Far Side cartoons which I gave her after pulling an all-nighter on one of her papers. And the photo of me and my friends at the Renaissance faire….

She gave me so much in school through her help and advice. She taught me to write, really – I learned so much grammar and English writing style in her class I literally changed my style during that year in high school, perhaps instead I should say I developed my style.

During my senior year of high school she was the one who Okayed me to take two independent study periods in her room even though she wasn’t there. She would check in on me occasionally but for the most part she knew that since I was working on my world that I wouldn’t want to be bothered.

She understood me and I understood her.

Looking back on the time I knew her, if I could wish one thing or change one thing, I wish we could have gone out to lunch and just talked.

Ms. Parrish, you will forever be carried with me as the special teacher in high school. May your soul forever rest in the highlands of Heaven.

Who was your favorite teacher? What did they teach? What’s your story? Theirs?

It was quite a blow for me to hear this today, but I’m curious to hear the stories of other people.

Ronincyberpunk: I am so sorry for your loss. It’s wonderful that your teacher was able to move you so strongly, teach you so well, and inspire you to write. I’m sure she loved it that you were so receptive and open to learning.

My favorite teachers were both English teachers. They were very different from each other (one was a tiny, fiery Italian woman with a passion for Joyce, the other a hockey-playing novelist in his mid 20s) but they threw me the lifeline I needed to get through those horrid teen years. Today, I teach my students the same poems and novels they taught me.

Again, my condolences to you, and thanks for sharing your story. It’s a great tribute to your teacher.

So sorry to hear about this.

And very weird, in a way, because just yesterday I tracked down my ninth grade English teacher. I’d been wanting to get in touch with him for years (it’s been 23 years since I saw him last) and I stumbled across an obituary a couple days ago with the same name - my heart about stopped cold. I realized while reading that it wasn’t the same person, but it motivated me to do some serious searching. It took me about an hour and a half over two days to find him. He’s now a Dean in a city not too terribly far away from me. I sent him an email and I am hoping to hear back. I think every good teacher needs to be thanked, and this gentleman was the best.

Not only did he teach me how to THINK while I read, he also inspired me to stretch in new directions. He left me with a great base to build upon, and an unnatural fondness for iambic pentameter.

I sympathize with your loss, and I hope that my daughter is fortunate enough to encounter the kind of teacher who inspires this much love from a student.

**LifeOnWry[/], I did something similar with my favorite teacher from high school. She was my art teacher when I was a senior in high school in 1970. A couple of years ago, I ran across her email address and sent her an email.

I told her how much that class and her teaching had meant to me, and how many things I still remembered and used from that class that made me think about her. (All true – I could come up with half a dozen things right now that I learned that year and still use.)

She did email me back to say that hearing things like that made her feel good about her time as a teacher.

Being able to say “thanks” to people who have helped us along the way is A Very Good Thing. I finally broke down a couple of years ago and thanked my parents for paying for me to take piano lessons all those years. Music has been a big part of my life thanks to them. And I got to let my mom know that before she died.

I had a very unique opportunity last year.

My former high school has “Alumni Night” every year, where we honor teachers and others who have made a lasting impact on the school.

One of the honorees was my old auto shop teacher. While the auto shop is no longer in existence at this school, he still remains there in charge of the “work experience” program or something like that.

I got to speak for Mr. Kitagawa, and present him with his plaque honoring his over 30 years of service to our school.

And the look on his face when I tossed out some of his “auto axioms,” as he called them, was priceless.

For your further edification, here is Mr. K’s best known auto axiom. It is in response to the question: “How does a carburetor work?”

Thanks, Mr. K. Oh yes, if you’d like to see a picture of me and Mr. K, Look Here. Second row, far left. The big goofy guy is me and Mr. K is the bald guy.